The Impact of Preexisting Conditions When Filing a Personal Injury Claim

doctor pointing at xrays on a screen

All personal injury victims deserve compensation for their injury. However, it’s worth considering the factors that may lessen your payout in court. Preexisting conditions call the impact of your recent injury into question. After filing a personal injury claim, our attorneys compile evidence for court that demonstrates how your recent injury impacts you in new ways or severely compounds existing issues.

Defining Preexisting Conditions

Preexisting conditions follow a fairly broad definition. Our attorneys would classify them as any injury, illness or other health issue that affected you at some point before your recent injury.

We are primarily concerned with previous health issues affecting the same part of the body at issue in your suit. In other words, we want to know about any injuries to the same body part that you injured that were significant enough to cause you to seek medical care before the incident.

In the courtroom, defense counsel often argues that the presence of a preexisting condition implies that the plaintiff is damaged goods. We must prove that the injury is unrelated or aggravated, activated or made worse by your previous condition.

Imagine someone filing a personal injury claim because of a car crash resulting in a severe shoulder injury. If they injured that same shoulder years ago in a work accident, their suit would be under significant scrutiny by the defense. We must show how the injured person recovered from the earlier condition and managed in the years leading up to the recent incident.

Determining Value

The value of your case is determined by calculating the difference between your health before the recent injury and after. While reviewing the evidence, the judge and jury may consider symptoms and limitations present before your recent injury.

For example, consider a 65-year-old involved in a car crash. They may have never experienced symptoms with their neck despite the natural deterioration that happens as all of us age. X-rays taken after the crash would surely show natural arthritic changes — illustrating the natural wear and tear of life.

An MRI after their recent injury may reveal a new disc deficit such as a protrusion or herniation. In such a case, a physician would play an integral role by identifying how the recent injury created unique issues or accelerated or aggravated the body’s condition as it was before the trauma.

Gathering Evidence for Court

To successfully prove your claim after filing a personal injury claim, you must access medical records and reports showing evidence of healing and recovery. X-rays, post-surgical follow-ups and other evidence for court could significantly affect your case.

One of our attorneys assisted a woman who experienced a slip and fall, resulting in a complete tear of a tendon in her rotator cuff. During her intake interview, she told us about an earlier injury to the same shoulder. Armed with her information, we retrieved medical records and diagnostic studies done years before during the treatment of the first injury. Those records showed that her injury healed fully — meaning that the injury was no longer a factor before the incident which caused her to seek our help.

During litigation, her doctors and radiologists were able to educate the jury on her prior condition and showcase that the earlier injuries had completely healed and did not cause our client any problems before she fell. Her medical records were invaluable to her case. Without them, the case may have struggled.

After filing a personal injury claim, your lawyers will speak to medical professionals about your condition to identify the similarities or differences in your injury. Beyond that, testimony will be valuable evidence for court that reveals your previous ability level. We often source testimony from anyone in the position to observe what the person was like at home — often spouses or partners. We may also have coworkers, supervisors and evaluators present to attest to your previous abilities in the workplace.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

You must remember that there are no laws to protect people with preexisting conditions in court cases. The burden of proof lies on you — an attorney will be integral in proving that your most recent injury is unrelated or caused additional harm.

It’s in your best interest to secure effective legal counsel and remain forthright with your medical history. Beyond tangible evidence for court, credibility is the most important thing we can showcase in a court case.

Casey, Devoti & Brockland will work diligently with you to investigate your prior physical state and secure proper compensation. Contact our personal injury attorneys to start filing a personal injury claim.

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