Car crashes are called accidents for a reason. You don’t plan on them to happen. You don’t foresee they’ll be an issue. Chances are that their likelihood won’t even cross your mind… until you’re involved in one.
Sometimes, they can be clear-cut: Someone suffers specific injuries. Car damage is assessed. Lost wages from being unable to work while you recover or costs of car rentals can be calculated. But what happens if you already had a pre-existing injury at the time of the accident? Will that diminish your chances of recovery?
What Is a Pre-Existing Injury?
A pre-existing injury is exactly what the name implies: Any condition, ailment, or health issue you had prior to the accident. Often, these type of injuries get aggravated by being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
Pre-Existing Conditions Personal Injury Case
Whether a pre-existing condition will affect your personal injury case will depend on the extent of injuries. If your pre-existing ailment wasn’t affected by the accident, you won’t be able to include it with the laundry list of other damages you may have suffered as a result of the crash.
However, if the accident worsens your condition or results in you needing additional treatment or medications for them, then you can claim those damages into your car accident claim. This is not as simple as stating: “Well, yes, I used to have herniated discs, but after the accident, my back hurts more often.” As with anything else in litigation, you’ll have to show documentation that backs up your claim. This means that the attorney for the person who caused the accident will look closely at your medical history, medical records, and will want to depose (take sworn testimony) you and your medical providers to find out the extent the car accident worsened the pre-existing condition.
The opposing attorney will also ask you questions regarding your personal life, such as what are your work duties, hobbies, and whether you participate in any type of sports or exercise programs. The purpose of these questions is to determine whether worsening of your injuries could have been caused by something other than the car accident.
Finally, the longer you wait to file your claim, the easier it will be for the opposing party to claim that your aggravated injury was caused by something else (such as carrying heavy groceries, conducting regular work duties, running a 5K, etc…). So even though the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for negligence is four years, the longer you wait, the more uphill the battle.
How Will a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Settlement?
During settlement negotiations, the attorney for the other party’s insurance company will try to limit liability to the greatest extent possible. In fact, one of the questions that is most commonly asked by insurance companies is whether the injured party has been previously involved in other car accidents.
Something else that will come into play are degenerative conditions. For example, if you have arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or any other type of health issues that are generally expected to worsen with time, opposing counsel will raise the argument that any aggravation was to be expected from the condition itself and not necessarily caused by the car accident.
If you’re able to prove that the aggravation to your pre-existing injuries were in fact caused by the car accident, there are additional elements that will come into play when negotiating a monetary amount to claim, such as:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (fancy legal term to describe the partnership that typically exists in a marriage, such as companionship, help raising children and with household chores, affection, and sexual intercourse).
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
There are many factors that influence the outcome of a car accident claim. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients who were involved in a motor vehicle accident, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.