California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3927. Aggravation of Preexisting Condition or Disability

[Name of plaintiff] is not entitled to damages for any physical or emotional condition that [he/she] had before [name of defendant]'s conduct occurred. However, if [name of plaintiff] had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by [name of defendant]'s wrongful conduct, you must award damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate [him/her] for the effect on that condition.

Sources and Authority

"A tortfeasor may be held responsible where the effect of his negligence is to aggravate a preexisting condition or disease." (Hastie v. Handeland (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 599, 604 [79 Cal.Rptr. 268], internal citations omitted.)

"Plaintiff may recover to the full extent that his condition has worsened as a result of defendant's tortious act." (Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 [142 Cal.Rptr. 69], internal citations omitted, overruled on another ground in Soule v. General Motors (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 574 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298].)

"It is by no means self-evident that an act which precipitates a flare-up of a pre-existing condition should be considered a 'cause which, in natural and continuous sequence, produces the injury.' Thus, general instructions on proximate cause were not sufficient to inform the jury on the more specific issue of aggravation of pre-existing conditions." (Ng, supra, 75 Cal.App.3d at p. 256.)

"[An instruction on preexisting condition] is proper only where the injured is the claimant seeking compensation for his injuries. That is not the case here in a wrongful death action." (Vecchione v. Carlin (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 351, 358 [168 Cal.Rptr. 571].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Torts, § 1414, pp. 885-886

4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 51, Pain and Suffering, § 51.23[3] (Matthew Bender)

California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar 1988) Bodily Injury, § 1.86

15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages (Matthew Bender)

6 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 65, Damages (Matthew Bender)

2 Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice (1992) Torts, § 5:11

(New September 2003)