It’s one of my pet peeves and it happened on the way to work. I was driving in the right lane, slowing down for traffic ahead of me. All of a sudden and without a turn signal, a van with a painted “Medical Transport”, pulled over and right into my lane.
I slammed on my brakes and avoided hitting the van. Then, I couldn’t help it. I pulled up next to the van and peered in to see who was driving. I was looking for some explanation or maybe even a sheepish look from the driver. Instead, he was just drinking coffee and talking on his cell phone. That didn”t make me feel any better.
I couldn’t tell if someone was riding in the back. The last thing they needed was to be in an accident while on their way to a medical appointment, because of an inattentive medical transport driver.
That event reminded me of a recent case that I was working on. The fact pattern has repeated itself several times. What happens when a person is already hurt and they get into another accident? The mentioned case involved someone riding as a passenger, who was rearended while leaving the hospital, after just having back surgery. Hurts to even type those facts.
What injuries and harms should be the responsibility of the at-fault driver? For blog purposes, there is no simple answer. It does go back to the law on preexisting injury. It’s also sometimes casually called “The Humpty Dumpty” Instruction:
This is the instruction that is usually read to a Virginia jury:
“If you find that the plaintiff had a condition before the accident that was aggravated as a result of the accident or that the pre-existing condition made the injury he received in the accident more severe or more difficult to treat, then if you find your verdict for the plaintiff, he may recover for the aggravation and for the increased severity or difficulty of treatment, but he is not entitled to recover for the pre-existing condition“.
A defendant is not responsible for prior injury. They are responsible for making the injury worse… the aggravation.
If you really enjoy reading about history, here is the suggested real story about Humpty Dumpty. Apparently, it was really a cannon that fell off a wall and not an egg. I like the egg story better.
Still, for pic o’ day I thought I would go with the cat that is not about to fall, if he can help it. Humpty Cat sat above the water.