How Do Pre-Existing Injuries Affect Your Personal Injury Case in Florida?
Picture this—you’re in an accident and it’s clearly the Defendant’s fault. In fact, it doesn’t even seem like they (the defendant and his or her representation) are challenging the fact that the defendant did something wrong. However, they seem to have an interest in your prior medical history-—even injuries that happened years ago. They are asking about every ache, pain, gym or work injury, or medical complaint you have made since the day you were born. Why is that?
Prior Medical Injuries and Causation
The reason is that the Defendant is trying to argue that you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is often the first line of defense after a Defendant starts to realize that liability may be imposed for having something wrong that caused your accident.
Pre-existing injuries can be thought of in terms of causation—that is, to be liable, the defendant must have done something wrong (was negligent) and that negligence must have caused your injuries.
By fishing through your medical records and your medical history, a defendant is trying to argue that the pain or disability you are experiencing or the medical procedures that you may need in the future were actually caused by that injury from years ago–not by the car accident or slip and fall subject to your claim. If that’s true, the Defendant doesn’t owe you anything and you may be left to fend for yourself after an injury or accident.
Aging Matters Also
The Defendant won’t just use a prior injury you may have sustained, as many victims have not incurred prior injuries. So, a defendant may also try to argue that the natural progress of aging, which often causes pain, aches, and medical problems, is the cause of your injuries rather than the defendant’s own negligence.
Many doctors will testify that anybody over the age of 40 or 50, has some kind of age-related injury or condition to their back and neck. The Defendant will try to use that against you if you injure your back in an accident at or around those ages.
Can You Recover Damages if You Have a Prior Injury or condition related to aging?
Florida law allows a victim to recover damages even if they had a pre-existing injury or condition that was worsened after a car accident or slip and fall. In fact, this is quite common; an accident doesn’t just cause new injuries, it can significantly worsen a bad back, or carpal tunnel syndrome, or even depression. So, the law does not preclude a victim from recovering compensation when an injury or disease you had is exacerbated by the accident.
If a jury feels that the accident has exacerbated your injuries, the jurors must then try to determine what part of your injuries are caused by the accident, and which existed from before the accident. It is important for you to try to parse that out as well so you can tell your doctors and the jury.
If a jury has absolutely no way of deciphering your new injuries from your pre-existing injury or condition, the jury must, by law, assume that your entire injury or damages were caused by your accident.
Personal injury cases can have problems that you don’t anticipate. Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law today for help.