Aggravation of pre-existing condition is a recoverable element of damages in Wisconsin motor vehicle accident cases. But there must be a discernable aggravation, which is a question of causation. If a case doesn’t settle, the jury must decide whether the car accident was a substantial factor in producing the injury and the aggravation, and whether the plaintiff’s condition after the accident flowed from or was the natural consequence of the defendant’s negligent conduct.
Wisconsin law follows the traditional eggshell-skull or take-your-victim-as-you-find-him-or-her rule of the common law that holds just because you may be more susceptible to injury, it doesn’t give the bad driver a pass on paying for the damage caused by his accident. Anderson v. Milwaukee Ins., 161 Wis. 2d 766 (Ct. App. 1991).
If an injured person has a preexisting condition or injury or a predisposition to injury or disease, then a negligent driver is liable for the damages if his negligent conduct “excited” or set in motion the preexisting problem. Vosberg v. Putney, 86 Wis. 278 (1893). The defendant driver cannot escape liability for what happens to the injured person — he takes the plaintiff as he finds him — but the defendant can offer evidence of the person’s preexisting injury or condition on the question of damages because the defendant is only responsible for the aggravation. Schaidler v. Chicago & Nw. Ry., 102 Wis. 564 (1899). Wisconsin law does not say that when injuries from an accident are the same as injuries that may inevitably occur due to a preexisting condition, the injuries from the accident are completely uncompensable. However, such a situation may reduce the amount of damages. Wester v. Bruggink, 190 Wis. 2d 308, 326 (Ct. App. 1994).
A negligent driver may be liable only to the extent that his bad driving “proximately and naturally aggravated” or activated the plaintiff’s condition. Stewart v. City of Ripon, 38 Wis. 584 (1875). The at fault driver is liable for all damages resulting when an accident activates a dormant condition or aggravates a prior injury if the resultant disease or injury can be shown to be a natural consequence of, or to flow naturally from, the accident. Colla v. Mandella, 1 Wis. 2d 594 (1957). Whether the claimed aggravation is a natural consequence of the accident, the lapse of time and sequence of events between the accident and the aggravation’s appearance is important. Pucci v. Rausch, 51 Wis. 2d 513 (1971).
McCormick Law Office attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin get the best results in aggravation of pre-existing condition cases when the treating physician can explain or articulate the difference in the condition caused by the motor vehicle accident.