As a Chester County Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer, I often hear the question Do I have a legal claim for compensation if a Car accident aggravated my pre-existing back injury?  The answer is Yes, but the fact that you had a pre-existing back injury is a complicating factor in the car accident case making it important that you have an experienced Personal Injury attorney to represent you.

Pennsylvania Law Regarding Pre-Existing Conditions

Pennsylvania law provides that someone who causes a car accident is liable for all harm caused by the collision.  Harm includes physical injuries that are clearly caused by the trauma, like cuts, bruises and broken bones, but it also includes any aggravation or worsening of pre-existing conditions, like back injuries or degenerative conditions.

For anyone over age 20, and sometimes even younger people, back injuries and degenerative conditions are very common.  Sports activities, trauma, hard labor or even a sedentary lifestyle can cause spine injuries and/or degeneration of the spine.

When a car accident causes the forward and backward whiplash motion, pre-existing back injuries or degenerative conditions can be aggravated.  This often results in symptoms like pain and restricted range of motion.

Pennsylvania  law provides that someone injured in an accident is entitled to recover compensation for the aggravation of pre-existing back injuries.  This is the case even if the injuries are worse than might be expected because of the pre-existing conditions.

The only way a defendant can escape liability is if he can establish that the injured person would be suffering from the same symptoms from the pre-existing conditions even if the accident did not happen.

Insurance Company and Defense Lawyer Tricks

When insurance companies or defense lawyers learn of a pre-existing injury or prior accident related injury, they’ll do whatever they can to try do avoid accepting responsibility and blame the injury on the pre-existing condition or prior accident.

Common tactics include subpoenaing all of your prior medical records,  having a private investigator follow you and take photgraphs and video and having you seen by a hired gun defense doctor to say that either there is nothing wrong with you or that your problems are caused by the pre-existing condition.

How to Get Justice

You can still get justice.  But, particularly in car accidents involving pre-existing back injuries, it’s important to maximize your chances of winning by condidering these tips:

1- Be sure to hire an experienced Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer;

2- Be honest and up front with your lawyer about all pre-existing conditions and prior accidents;

3- Document your injuries with medical treatment and a daily journal of your symptoms, treatment and restrictions;

4- Never exaggerate your claims of injury and then get caught in surveillance photos or videos doing things you claim no to be able to do;

5-  Think of several witnesses, including family, friends, co-workers, etc. who can corroborate your claims of the difference between your life before and after the accident.


Tim Rayne is a Chester County Car Accident Lawyer with MacElree Harvey.  For more information on your legal rights after a car accident contact Tim at or 610 840 0124.


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