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Gunn v. Robertson - 501 So.2d 555; 2001 La. App. LEXIS 2695

Rule:

It is a well settled rule of law that a defendant takes his victim as he finds him and is responsible for all natural and probable consequences of his tortious conduct. When the tortfeasor's conduct aggravates a pre-existing condition, the tortfeasor must compensate the victim for the full extent of the aggravation. 

Facts:

Plaintiff victim sued defendant driver. The district court entered judgment for the victim on a jury verdict, but pursuant to La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. 970, taxed the driver's and insurer's costs against the victim and the family, and denied the victim and family's request for costs. The victim and family appealed. The driver ran a red light, and collided with the victim's car. The victim had a pre-existing back condition that was aggravated by the accident. His constant pain could only be relieved by surgery, which he could not afford.

Issue:

Should a victim's damage award be amended and increased to include damage from aggravation of a pre-existing condition?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The appellate court held that, as the driver took his victim as he found him, and produced no evidence and the victim's condition was caused by anything other than the aggravation of his back condition by the accident, the jury's pain and suffering award of $1,000 was insufficient as a matter of law. It increased the award to $25,000. The jury also erred by not awarding the victim his past and future medical expenses as proved at trial. 

The damage award was amended to increase the victim's general damages and to award him past and future medical expenses. The assessment of costs against plaintiffs was reversed, and all costs were assessed against defendants. The remainder of the judgment was affirmed.

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