• Leitner Varughese

Can a Preexisting Condition Affect My Car Accident Lawsuit?


When you have sustained serious injuries in a New York motor vehicle collision, you will likely be thinking almost immediately about how you can obtain compensation to cover your losses. In particular, when injuries require significant treatment and hospitalization, including surgery and follow-up care, you might already know that your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will be insufficient and that you will need to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Yet for many injury victims in car accident lawsuits, concerns can arise about compensation for injuries when there is a preexisting condition. In other words, if the car accident resulted in a spinal cord injury or a serious back injury, you might be worried about your likelihood of winning your case if you have a preexisting back injury that was aggravated by the collision.

Many preexisting conditions are indeed exacerbated by an auto accident, and it is important to speak with a New York auto accident lawyer about your options for obtaining compensation to cover your losses. In the meantime, we want to say more about preexisting conditions in New York car crash cases.

Understanding the Potential Impact of Preexisting Conditions on Your Auto Accident Case

The first thing to consider when determining whether a preexisting condition is likely to affect your injury lawsuit is whether the preexisting condition is related to the auto accident injury. For example, if you are recovering from a back injury and you sustain significant facial fractures or disfigurement in a car crash, or the collision results in a limb loss or amputation, the preexisting condition might not have any meaningful affect.

However, if the serious injury you sustained in the crash was an exacerbation of a preexisting condition, it will be critical to have substantial medical documentation to prove that the motor vehicle collision was the cause of the current injury (which represents an exacerbation of a preexisting or underlying condition). If a collision significantly exacerbated a preexisting condition and you can prove it with medical evidence, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault motorist.

You Will Need to Show that the Exacerbation of Your Injury Constitutes a “Serious Injury”

As you might already know, under New York Insurance Law § 5104, you cannot be eligible to file a lawsuit unless the injury you sustained in a car crash constitutes a “serious injury” as it is defined by the law. When car accident cases involve preexisting conditions, it will be necessary to prove that the way in which the collision exacerbated the injury resulted in a serious injury as it is defined by New York insurance law.

In other words, if you already had a serious injury that was only slightly exacerbated by the wreck, you may not be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit. You should seek advice from a motor vehicle accident lawyer in New York as soon as possible to determine how your preexisting injury might affect your eligibility to file a lawsuit due to the serious injury threshold under New York law.

Contact an Experienced New York Auto Accident Lawyer

If you were involved in a car crash and have one or more preexisting conditions, it is critical to begin working with our New York car accident attorneys as soon as possible. We will want to evaluate your case and gather medical evidence that can help to prove you sustained new injuries in the collision. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC today for assistance with your case.

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