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How A Prior Injury Can Affect Your Current Claim

Many people who suffer a neck or back injury in a car accident have injured their neck or back before. They are often concerned with how the prior injury may impact their ability to recover damages in their new case, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Alaska law recognizes that you can recover damages for injuries that result from aggravating a pre-existing condition

It is important first to recognize that Alaska law permits you to recover damages for aggravating a pre-existing injury. Alaska has a standard jury instruction that explains that explains that the at-fault driver is responsible for damages from an injury that are the result of a pre-existing physical condition. The jury instruction is Alaska Civil Pattern Instruction 20.11 and can be found here.

Proving that the current motor vehicle collision made a pre-existing condition worse

It is important to understand the different areas of evidence that are essential for proving that the new motor vehicle collision or incident worsened a previous injury.

First, look at your own pain complaints. This type of evidence comes directly from you. It may include a comparison of your subjective complaints pre-collision and post-collision. Maybe you were receiving treatment for an injury you received years ago and your complaints to your treating doctor were a 1 or 2 out of 10, and now after the car accident your pain complaints are in the 8-9 out of 10 range. This would be one way of proving that the auto collision exacerbated a pre-existing injury.

Second, it is important to keep a journal that documents things you could do before the auto crash that you are having more difficulty doing now. Even if you suffered from a previous injury, if you can show that you were able to do most all of your household chores, but that now after the new crash you cannot vacuum nor do the laundry, this will aid in support of your claim that the new collision has aggravated a prior condition. Having a baseline and documentation showing your condition, pre- and post-crash, is crucial.

Third, statements from family members, friends, and co-workers are important. It is important to pick people involved in your everyday life. These people will be able to testify about how you were before the accident and how you are now. For instance, a friend could say that before the accident, you would go fishing together all the time, but since the accident, you can hardly fish at all because of your injured shoulder. Or a co-worker could testify that you could stand on your feet all day before the collision, but now you have to sit down every half hour or so. This type of evidence is important to your claim.

Fourth, expert testimony and testimony from your treating physicians is also important. For example, if your doctor is provided with all your records from prior to the new crash and has treated you or has reviewed your records post-crash, he/she will be able testify how your conditions has worsened. 


If you or a loved has been injured in a car accident, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden at (866) 985-4224 for a free consultation. You can also visit our personal injury page, car accident page, and our Blog for more information.

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