How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Complicate a Personal Injury Case?
If you have suffered bodily harm as the result of an injury or an accident you have a right to be compensated for damages caused by the party responsible for injury or accident. With most personal injury cases, the party responsible for the accident (and their insurance company) will do their best to minimize their cost and settle the case with the lowest damages award possible. Personal injury cases become more complicated where the injured party has a pre-existing injury or condition aggravated or worsened as a result of the accident.
Pre-existing Injuries Can Affect the Outcome of Your Case
If an injury is related to a pre-existing injury or condition aggravated by the accident, you can count on the insurance company fighting aggressively to limit any financial award. While you are not entitled to receive damages for any condition that existed before the accident, you have every right to receive damages for any physical or mental conditions aggravated or made worse by the accident. The complications and disputes arise when making the distinction between the prior injury and the current injury.
Disclose Any Pre-Existing Injuries
Having full knowledge of any previous injury or condition is critical. If your injury is made worse by a preexisting injury or health condition you do not want to hide that information or evidence from your attorney. Full disclosure is absolutely required. He or she needs to be fully equipped to strategize and advocate on your behalf to achieve the best case result.
When you file a personal injury case, the defendant’s insurance company will have the right to access to your medical history and health records. Those medical records will be scrutinized in fine detail, so any attempt or efforts to withhold or minimize such information can only hurt your credibility and the outcome of your case.
Evidence Through Medical Records
A number of pre-existing conditions could become relevant in a personal injury case. From high blood pressure and bulging discs to depression and anxiety, most physical or mental conditions experienced prior to an accident could be considered pre-existing conditions. The medical records provide the documentation of prior conditions and provide a valuable reference point for comparison. For an experienced personal injury attorney, these records can provide a strategic advantage when trying to show how an accident either aggravated a pre-existing condition or caused more severe injuries than one would expect.
Pre-Existing Injuries in a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Case
In Pennsylvania personal injury cases, if the aggravation of a pre-existing injury or condition occurs, the party at fault is liable for damages. Standard jury instructions are given to Pennsylvania jurors to help them determine the amount to award for damages. Specifically, they provide:
“Damages should be awarded for all injuries caused — even if:
- the injuries caused by the [accident] [occurrence] were more severe than could have been foreseen because of the plaintiff’s prior physical condition; or
- a preexisting medical condition was aggravated by” the accident. [Standard Civil Jury Instruction 6.03]
Call Personal Injury Lawyer Alfred Abel for Help With a Claim Involving a Pre-Existing Injury
If you have been injured in an accident, especially if you have a pre-existing injury or condition, be sure to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to get the best possible outcome for your claim. Contact us today to set up a consultation and learn more about complications presented by pre-existing injuries and conditions.
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