A pre-existing injury or condition can impact your personal injury case, but it really depends on the scenario. Personal injury laws are written to be equitable. If someone injures you, they should be held liable for physical and emotional costs of those injuries. However, they can’t be forced to pay for the treatment of your pre-existing condition.
This mainly comes into play when your injury was either worse or wouldn’t have occurred at all had you not been affected by a pre-existing condition.
For example, consider a case where a person with Paget’s disease – a condition that causes bones to be brittle, soft or misshapen – gets into a car accident. The person hits their head on the steering wheel due to the force of the car crash, resulting in a skull fracture. A person who does not suffer from Paget’s disease may have just had a bruise on their forehead, but the person with Paget’s disease suffers a much more severe and costly skull fracture injury.
The negligent driver who caused the accident cannot use the auto accident injury victim’s condition as a defense in their case. Their defense attorneys can’t go before a judge and say, “My client shouldn’t be liable for the injury because the injury only happened due to the victim’s pre-existing condition.”
The judge or jury can order them to pay for treatment, lost wages and pain and suffering related to the skull fracture that happened due to the auto accident, but not for Paget’s disease treatments or lost wages that may have accrued before the accident.
The previous example is particularly appropriate given the name of the legal concept associated with pre-existing conditions and how they pertain to personal injury.
According to the eggshell skull rule, a pre-existing condition, including one that was caused by a previous injury, can affect the total damages you can collect in so far as you will only be compensated for the specific injuries suffered in the accident. However, you can’t be denied a legitimate claim just because you had a pre-existing condition that made you more susceptible to injury.The worst thing you, as a plaintiff, can do is try to cover up a previous injury or pre-existing condition. Depending on the situation, covering up a pre-existing condition may be considered fraud, and it may jeopardize your legitimate case.
If you have a back condition that was aggravated in an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, be transparent about your back problems before the accident and how they’ve become worse after the accident.
Personal injury cases of all types can be won or lost based on medical treatment. If you don’t receive treatment promptly after your injury, even if you don’t have a pre-existing condition, there’s a possibility that you can lose your case.
When you see a doctor for treatment after an accident, they will document your injuries as well as the source of your injuries. This documentation is going to be key evidence in your case. If you don’t seek treatment right away after your accident, there’s a good chance you won’t have the evidence you need to prove the extent of your injuries, the source of those injuries and the damages you suffered as a result.
This is doubly true for people with pre-existing conditions. The defense attorneys in your case are going to do their best to convince the judge and jury that your new injuries are actually old injuries related to your pre-existing condition, meaning their client isn’t liable for any new medical costs you may have.
A doctor’s report from your initial post-accident treatment should document your new injuries and can be used to prove your most recent accident resulted in your new injuries. Even if your new injuries only occurred due to a pre-existing condition, the negligent party responsible of the accident can still be held accountable for your new medical costs.
If you have a pre-existing condition that was either aggravated due to an accident that wasn’t your fault or your injuries are attributable in part to a pre-exiting condition or an injury from a previous accident, you may still have a personal injury case. Consider contacting an experience personal injury attorney in Florida to find out how your pre-existing condition may affect your chances.