What Pre-Existing Injuries do to Your Personal Injury Claim
When a person files a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, he or she is seeking damages. These damages occurred because of the negligence of the other party. However, most adults have suffered previous injuries that are not caused by the accident. That is why it is important that plaintiffs understand what pre-existing injuries do to your personal injury claim.
What is a Pre-Existing Injury?
People often call pre-existing injuries pre-existing conditions. They are the injuries and their after-effects of those injuries that you experienced before the motorcycle or automobile accident.
Most often, pre-existing injuries are skeletal such as shoulder injuries or back pain. They happened for reasons that existed before the date of the accident. This means the courts won’t award damages in a personal injury claim.
Exacerbation and Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Injury
The good news is that if a motorcycle accident made your pre-existing injury worse, the defendant may be liable. That is, you are covered for the difference between your before and after condition. This is typically called the exacerbation or aggravation of a pre-existing injury.
The courts will generally rule that but for the accident, you would not have suffered additional pain or injury from the pre-existing injury. That is why you deserve compensation for your additional loss.
For example, if you experienced chronic pain but full mobility prior to an accident, but now you cannot move your arm above your waste, the lessened mobility can be part of the claim.
The Benefits of Pre-Existing Injuries in Personal Injury Claims
It goes without saying that a defendant and his or her lawyer will be looking to undermine any claim of injury. A common tactic in reducing claims is to blame many injuries on previous events that precluded the accident. This is actually one reason pre-existing conditions can be helpful.
A robust, healthy individual may not have much of a medical record. An annual exam once every few years may not account for aches and pains one received while mountain biking or surfing. Lawyers understand this and will look for any reasons to cast doubt on your health prior to the accident.
However, if you already had a pre-existing injury, your medical record is likely more complete. It will be difficult to cast doubt on your previous state of health because it will be in your record at your doctors’ offices.
Nobody likes to have their claim reduced by pre-existing injuries. However, it is good to have a clear account of your medical condition. In some cases, it can increase your claim because of clearly worsened ailments.
Florida’s Eggshell Plaintiff Rule
Many defendants might begrudgingly ask, “Why am I responsible for pre-existing injuries the other party already had?” The answer can be found in the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule exists throughout the country and basically says that a fragile plaintiff still gets full compensation for injuries. Therefore, if a person is liable for damages, those damages will be greater if the plaintiff sustained more injuries. This is true even if the additional injury was because of pre-existing conditions.
A defendant may find it unfortunate that the losses are greater because of pre-existing conditions, but that does not reduce his or her liability. The plaintiff deserves compensation for his or her losses.
Still, the defendant is not responsible for injuries the other party already had. They are simply responsible for the additional or worsened injury.
Full Disclosure Important with Pre-Existing Injuries
One of the most important things a plaintiff can do when preparing for a personal injury lawsuit is to fully disclose all pre-existing conditions. Your lawyer will work out the details on what is important to include in your case, but you need to explain that you have pre-existing injuries lest the court discover it.
Trying to garner more damages based on fraudulent omissions in regard to your health prior to the accident is unethical. It could also end up lessening your compensation. The judge may be considering compensation for non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering. These are largely subjective estimates about your loss, and he or she won’t be inclined to award you additional money if you’re trying to hide pre-existing injuries.
Full Disclosure Also Important for New Injuries
While it is important to fully disclose pre-existing injuries, it is also important that you are very detailed with your disclosure of new injuries. Everything counts.
You may not feel like complaining about a scrape that will probably fully heal or sore wrists. Every injury matters when you’re talking about a personal injury lawsuit.
It may be difficult to recall every ache and pain you experience since the accident, which is why you should write it down. Your broken ribs may be at the forefront of your mind, but when they heal, your knee pain may take center stage. Writing down injuries that seem minimal will allow your lawyer to present your new or worsened injuries in an appropriate manner that is comparable to your actual loss.
Evidence is Vital to Claims with Pre-Existing Injuries
When a lawyer presents your claim to the judge, the judge is going to want to see evidence of your injuries. Not all injuries offer clear evidence, which is why an injured party should present as much evidence as possible.
Potential evidence clearly includes medical records, bills, and photos. It can also include testimony from friends and family and whatever you write down. Keep a diary of your experiences following the accident. Not only will it jog your memory, but it can serve as evidence. It will show that you are experiencing losses from the accident that are repetitive whether they are constant or sporadic.
Don’t feel strange, dramatic, or needy about your losses. They are real, and the more you communicate them, the more comfortable you will feel with your lawsuit experience.
Your Lawyer Should Offer Support
Lastly, your lawyer should be supportive in regard to your injuries. He or she should appreciate your losses and show compassion regarding your suffering. You don’t want to file a lawsuit with a lawyer who you feel does not have your back, so make sure you have one who is there for you.
Lawyers may also help you to get the medical treatment you need. When you tell your lawyer about your symptoms following an accident, your lawyer may encourage you to seek medical treatment. This may mean the difference between getting physical therapy sessions to increase mobility. It may also mean getting therapy for mental health experiences you may suffer following the accident.
Many people don’t realize the support a good lawyer can offer. Lawyers are not medical professionals, but they can be encouraging and help motivate you to get to the doctor and get back to your best physical and mental state.
Motorcycle accidents are understandably painful, and pursuing a lawsuit following a lawsuit can be stressful. However, so are medical bills and any other losses you may be experiencing. That is why it is important to seek out an experienced lawyer who understands the challenges of motorcycle lawsuits and how to streamline your experience.
If you’d like to speak to an experienced lawyer regarding your motorcycle lawsuit, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz. You’ll speak to an actual lawyer right away for a no-obligation consultation.