Will My Pre-Existing Injury Hurt My Car Accident Case?
Many times, a car accident will exacerbate, or aggravate, an injury or wound that occurred in a previous accident. The car accident can cause injuries from a previous accident to become worse, or they can cause similar damage to an old injury to cause new problems. Common occurrences of pre-existing injuries occur in areas of the neck and back, where nagging injuries are difficult to mend and recuperate. Sometimes, the accident intensifies an injury that has long since healed, and other times, a lingering injury is made even worse. How do these injuries affect your car accident claim?
Eggshell Skull Rule
One well-established legal doctrine is that “you take your victim as you find him.” In other words, the frailty of an injured person is not a defense in a tort case. For instance, if a person’s negligence causes a hemophiliac to have a catastrophic bleeding episode over a minor cut, the negligent person is still responsible for all of the damage they cause to the person. As applied to pre-existing injuries in a car accident, a negligent driver is still responsible for causing aggravated injuries to a person who suffered from a previous injury.
It’s important to note, however, that the Plaintiff can expect a monumental battle over whether the injuries are related to the car accident or are old injuries that are unrelated or not caused by the car accident.
Acceptance or Denial of the Claim
The Plaintiff can expect the claim for injuries to a pre-existing injury to be denied based on the fact that the insurance company believes the injuries to be “pre-existing only.” In other words, the insurance company is stating that the injuries either are not related to the current car accident or were not caused by the negligence of their insured driver, but that the injuries stemmed from a previous accident.
The defense may take a blended approach, where a steeply reduced offer is made based on the contention that they believe most of the injury is related to a previous accident. At this point, the insurance company may request that the Plaintiff sign a medical authorization to allow the insurance company to rummage through the Plaintiff’s medical past. A personal injury lawyer Little Rock AR counts on would recommend a restricted authorization to limit the time period and type of records allowed, as the purpose of such a request is likely for the sole purpose of eliminating financial responsibility for the accident.
For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran trial lawyer to deal with issues of exacerbation of pre-existing injuries.
Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into pre-existing injuries.