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What if I Aggravate or Re-Injure an Existing Injury as a Result of Someone Else’s Negligence?

woman in neck brace sitting at desk

A common scenario that touches upon both worker’s compensation and personal injury actions in Virginia is what happens when an injury from a workplace incident is later either exacerbated by or re-injured in an incident caused by someone else’s negligence. For example, imagine that in the course of your job as a construction worker, you fall off a ladder at work, severely injuring your right ankle. After filing a worker’s compensation claim and receiving medical treatment for this injury that is paid for by your employer’s worker’s compensation carrier as mandated under Virginia law, you are visiting a family member at an apartment complex where she lives when a portion of the boardwalk you are walking on between the complex parking lot and her apartment collapses, causing you to fall. As you fell, you severely twisted your injured right ankle in the process. Even though you had permanent injuries to your right ankle as a result of the previous workplace incident, an immediate post-fall trip to the emergency room during which imaging of your ankle was performed reflects a torn tendon that was not there before. This means that injury likely is completely a result of this incident at the apartment complex. The question for most parties in this scenario is whether the person has a new personal injury claim against the apartment complex or whether this would simply be treated as a part of the worker’s compensation process. The answer is yes, this is a separate claim for which you have a separate right to recovery, and it also applies equally whether the earlier proceeding was a worker’s compensation claim or another personal injury suit against a different party based on a different incident.

Separate Injury, Separate Right to Recovery

Under Virginia law, in the scenario above, you would have a separate claim against the apartment complex for the aggravation or increase in severity of your right ankle injury caused by your fall. This new claim would include the ability to seek to recover the costs of any medical treatment you have to undergo as a result of that injury, any income you may lose out on as a result of your new injuries to that same ankle, and your pain and suffering as a result of that injury.

Expect the apartment complex defense attorney to argue that the slip and fall did not cause any additional injuries beyond what the original fall from the ladder and that the tendon tear and all of your other injuries are from that earlier incident. However, what the defense often fails to understand in this type of scenario is that the injured party’s medical records from immediately prior to the slip and fall injury will reflect the exact condition of the victim’s right ankle at that time. In particular, the fact that the post-fall imaging showed a tendon tear, which had never appeared before on any of your pre-fall imaging, is a dead giveaway that there is a new injury. Any difference in either the victim’s functional abilities or the type or extent of his or her injuries also would be new and different and would be recoverable by the worker in a personal injury lawsuit against the apartment complex.

An Experienced Attorney Can Make This Point To a Jury

At Kalfus & Nachman, given that we represent both injured workers in worker’s compensation proceedings as well as those injured by someone else’s negligence in personal injury actions, we understand both systems—and particularly what damages, including medical treatment, they cover—and so we are prepared for defense attorneys who may try to confuse the jury by arguing that all of your right ankle injuries are as a result of whatever workplace injury you suffered when you fell from a ladder. When confronted with medical records that simply reflect new findings of an injury from their own client’s negligence, it is extremely difficult for defense attorneys and defendants to ignore the fact that it was their client’s negligence that caused those new injuries and that a jury should award the injured party for that.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman if You or Someone You Love Has Been Injured in Virginia

At Kalfus & Nachman, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys have recovered millions in compensation for our clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. We have represented numerous individuals who have suffered injuries on the job or who were injured in one incident, obtained a recovery related to that incident, and then were injured again in another incident as a result of a different party’s negligence. We then successfully pursued recovery for them on the basis of their new injuries and we have experience demonstrating to juries in clear and simple terms and with the assistance of trusted medical expert witnesses why the injuries sustained in the second incident are different and distinct than those suffered in the first incident. Therefore, if you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, then please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone today at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation regarding your particular situation.

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