Preexisting Conditions in Medical Malpractice Suits
Courts apply different rules when dealing with a pre-existing condition that was worsened or facilitated by medical malpractice. If, at the time you were treated, there was a possibility that you might suffer an injury regardless of the negligent treatment, then your recovery will often be limited.
For example, assume you are having breathing problems and you go to the emergency room. The treating physician fails to properly identify your condition and you suffer a collapsed lung. If you file a medical malpractice action against the physician, the court considers whether you would have suffered the collapsed lung even if it had been properly diagnosed and you had received prompt treatment. If your attorneys can prove that the failure to promptly diagnose and treat your condition aggravated or worsened your condition, you will be able to recover damages for your injuries.
However, if the defendant proves that you would have suffered the collapsed lung regardless of treatment, then you may not be able to recover any damages. In addition, if the defendant can demonstrate that the delay was only one factor in your injuries and can also clearly quantify the percentage of damages attributable to the delay, then the defendant may only be liable for that percentage and your recovery will be limited — see Reynolds v. Gonzales, 172 N.J. 266 (2002).
It is important to realize that every medical malpractice case is different. After reviewing the unique details of your case, an experienced injury lawyer can provide you with sound advice on how to move forward.