How preexisting injuries affect a new personal injury claim
It may take years to heal from some injuries. However, in a flash, the old pain can return with the occurrence of a new accident. Similarly, a new accident can add to existing discomfort. How are preexisting injuries handled in personal injury cases? How relevant are they? In short, they may be an important part of your claim against the party who caused your accident.
When we initially meet with our clients, we request information concerning prior claims and preexisting injuries. Honesty is a crucial part of the relationship between an attorney and client. It is best that we are advised of the truth before we learn it from another source. Old injuries are documented in medical records or may even appear in new diagnostic tests. In addition, past personal injury claims are recorded in a master database accessible by insurance companies. Credibility often adds to the veracity of a personal injury claim.
There is no question that a preexisting injury can be aggravated, exacerbated, or worsened by a new accident. Of course, the first step is to determine the extent of the preexisting injury. This is done by securing prior medical records for the treating/expert doctors. It is not only important to your claim — it is also helpful in setting up a treatment plan. Any information regarding prior lawsuits is useful in documenting the previous claim.
There are some important areas of concern regarding preexisting injuries. The obvious is that a party cannot be held liable for damages caused by a prior accident. Nevertheless, it is necessary to show if the injured person recovered from the first accident or continued to be symptomatic. This does not mean that someone cannot recover damages because they were already in pain. However, it will be necessary to secure expert opinion to apportion the condition between the prior injury and the part attributable to the accident.
Conversely, a person who has seemingly recuperated from a prior injury is viewed differently in accident cases. They should be entitled to full damages, rather than an apportionment. Of course, defense counsel works on behalf of their client. They may try to prove that the pain is entirely due to the preexisting injury.
The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has worked on all types of accident cases for more than 26 years. It is important to retain experienced counsel to secure favorable results. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.