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Good Things for Plaintiffs with Preexisting Injuries

face of US Supreme CourthouseWe all know that accidents can cause injuries. While in some cases accidents create new injuries, other times an accident may cause an existing injury to get worse. So what happens when a person has been previously injured and then that injury is subsequently aggravated by a negligent defendant?  In the case of Lovely v. Allstate the Maine Supreme Court provided an answer to this very question while illustrating the importance of having an experienced Maine personal injury lawyer to help you win your claim.

Plaintiff claims previous injuries made worse with accident

In the case of  Lovely, the plaintiff, a Bangor tractor-trailer driver, suffered from previous injuries to his right elbow. The plaintiff sought treatment at a local clinic in Orono where he was told that he had sustained a small fracture. Shortly after being diagnosed with the fracture, the plaintiff suffered additional injuries to his elbow when his tractor-trailer was struck by an oncoming vehicle. Following this collision the plaintiff underwent extensive treatment, including two corrective surgeries, to ease his pain.

Seeking compensation for his injuries the plaintiff sued his underinsured motorist insurance carrier, Allstate Insurance. Though the plaintiff sustained injuries to both his knee and his elbow as a result of the collision, Allstate argued that the plaintiff’s elbow injury was at least partially attributable to a preexisting condition. The Superior Court agreed with Allstate and awarded money damages to the plaintiff solely for his knee injury.

Plaintiff appeals Maine court ruling

The plaintiff appealed and, with the help of a personal injury lawyer, was able to get this decision overturned. By applying the single injury rule the Court held that the lower Court made a mistake in not awarding the plaintiff damages for his elbow as well. Under the single injury rule, when two defendants cause one injury that is incapable of being separated, each defendant can be liable for the entire amount of damages.

In Lovely, the Court further expanded the application of this doctrine holding that the single injury rule shall also apply in cases where a negligent defendant aggravates a plaintiff’s preexisting condition and causes an aggregate injury that is incapable of apportionment, or being separated. While a defendant may limit his or her liability in such cases by producing evidence on which to apportion the damages that burden is on the defendant, rather than the innocent plaintiff. Absent such a showing, as was the case in Lovely, a defendant can be liable for the entire injury despite the fact that a portion of that injury may have preexisted.

The Lovely decision means good things for injured plaintiffs in Maine. As illustrated in Lovely, it can sometimes be very difficult to prove which parts of a plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant, and which part of the injury preexisted. This means that a plaintiff’s damages will not always be limited simply because they had a preexisting injury, and thus may be able to recover the full compensation they deserve.

Tell your Maine personal injury lawyer about any pre-existing injuries

The Portland-based law firm of Hardy Wolf & Downing offers free legal consultation to those whose prior injuries have been made worse as a result of another’s negligence. The expanded application of the single injury doctrine now makes it much more favorable for plaintiffs who may once have dismissed the idea of filing a lawsuit because of a pre existing condition. Today, we can help them recover compensation for the aggravation in addition to whatever other injuries they may have sustained in the matter at hand.

Please call 1-800-INJURED today and speak with a member of our distinguished team.