Claiming Compensation for Injuries to the Same or Similar Body Parts
I recently met with a client who had sustained significant injuries to her neck, shoulder and arm as a result of a faulty electrical device. She was unable to work, required substantial medical treatment and needed assistance performing household tasks.
Despite this, and before obtaining advice, she expressed concerns to me that she would be unable to make a claim for compensation because she had experienced mild degenerative changes in her neck many years ago.
This is not an uncommon concern. However, it based on a very incorrect assumption.
The law generally provides that where a person suffers injury caused by another's wrongful or unlawful actions, the law will seek to restore that injured person to the position they had held prior to the wrongful act occurring.
Applying this concept to compensation claims, a person may seek compensation for an incident which causes, aggravates, exacerbates or accelerates an injury. This is because if the incident had not occurred, the injury would not have arisen or, if pre-existing, become worse.
Therefore, if someone has a pre-existing injury to their neck, it does NOT automatically prohibit them from making a compensation claim.
Indeed, if the injury is of the same nature as before, and the restrictions and symptoms are unchanged, then it can be implied that the 'new' incident has NOT caused, aggravated, exacerbated or accelerated thepre-existing condition and a claim is unlikely to succeed.
However, if the new incident gives rise to new restrictions and/or symptoms (or makes those restrictions or symptoms worse), then the incident HAS caused, aggravated, exacerbated or accelerated the pre-existing condition. On this basis, a claim is likely to succeed provided other matters of law can be proved.
Referring back to the above scenario, this client had suffered completely new and different injuries when compared to her pre-existing condition. Although to the same part of her body, the new injuries had caused fresh symptoms and further restrictions. These injuries, symptoms and restrictions can be claimed.
In summary, compensation can be claimed for injuries to the extent that they have been caused or contributed to by the new incident. Whilst deductions may be made for the part of the injury not caused by the incident, a pre-existing injury does not prevent a claim being made
Have you been injured previously or had had a compensation claim rejected because of prior injuries? You can contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, ask us a question via email or even chatting with you online.