In Wisconsin aggravation of pre-existing condition is an element of damages in MVA cases. If a negligent driver causes a car accident and a another driver or passenger is injured, the injured person can recover for medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering even if the injured person had a pre-existing injury or medical condition. However, the negligent or at fault driver and his or her insurance company is only going to be responsible for the injuries to the extent that they were aggravated in the collision. A preexisting condition is a disease, condition, injury that was already in existence when the accident in question occurred.

The Wisconsin jury instruction advises: “The evidence shows that the plaintiff was previously injured when this motor vehicle accident occurred.  If the injuries of the plaintiff received in the accident aggravated any physical condition resulting from the earlier injury, you should allow fair and reasonable compensation for such aggravation but only to the extent that you find the aggravation to be a natural result of the injuries received in the accident.”

The question always becomes one of causation. In other words, the jury must determine whether the defendant’s driving was a substantial factor in producing the injury and the aggravation, and whether the plaintiff’s post accident condition flowed from or was the natural consequence of the defendant’s negligent driving.

An aggravation of a preexisting condition occurs when the negligent driver’s conduct advances either a dormant or nascent preexisting condition or a condition to which the injured person is predisposed.

Under these circumstances, the at fault driver is liable for all resulting damages if the aggravation is a consequence that naturally flows from the defendant’s bad driving.

Also keep in mind, the defendant driver cannot claim as a defense that the injured plaintiff was sickly or uncommonly predisposed to injury due to pre-existing bad health. The traditional eggshell-skull or take-your-victim-as-you-find-him-or-her rule of the common law applies. If an injured person has a preexisting condition or injury or a predisposition to injury or disease, then the negligent driver will be responsible for the damages if the accident conduct “excited” or set in motion the preexisting problem.

On the other hand, the negligent driver is only liable to the extent that the defendant’s bad driving “proximately and naturally aggravated” or activated the plaintiff’s condition. Stewart v. City of Ripon, 38 Wis. 584 (1875). The negligent driver is liable for all damages resulting when a collision either 1) aggravates a prior injury, or 2) activates a dormant condition.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin attorneys help drivers and passengers injured in car crashes even if they have a pre-existing condition, provided expert medical opinion supports the case.