Florida trial lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD, discusses how pre-existing conditions and prior injuries impact a Florida accident case.
The longer we live – the longer our story gets. As the years go by, it is likely that the average person will begin to develop arthritis or have and injury or illness. Preexisting conditions, injuries or accidents can impact a personal injury claim. A person injured in a car or truck accident, slip and fall or any other type of accident, has the burden to prove that their injury was caused by the other driver's or defendant's negligence and not arthritis, an underlying medical condition or prior accident.
Quite often I hear the insurance adjuster's and insurance attorney's favorite defense, “the accident shouldn't have caused your client's injury. I'm sure your client's problem was from his work injury 15 years earlier or his diabetes.” Legally speaking, this defense is called the “causation defense.” Typically, the insurance attorney will tell the jury, we are so sorry that we caused the accident but we do not believe the client was injured in the accident. Instead, his problem is not related to the accident but underlying arthritis. Insurance companies go to great lengths to try to find an injured person's past medical records so they can argue that the injury was pre-existing. Also, if a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will hire an insurance doctor to examine the injured person and testify that the accident DID NOT CAUSE THE INJURIES OR IF THE ACCIDENT DID CAUSE THE INJURIES – THE PROBLEM WAS TEMPORARY AND NOT PERMANENT.
PRACTICE TIP – If you have been INJURED in Florida accident and you have a lot of past medical conditions or prior injuries – consider the following:
- Tell your doctor about all prior medical conditions, surgeries, and/or injuries
- Hire a lawyer with a solid understanding of the medicine involved with your injuries
Florida law understands that people have lives before an accident and it allows compensation for aggravation of a pre-existing condition. A jury will be instructed about pre-existing conditions as follows:
If you find that the (defendant(s)) caused a bodily injury, and that the injury resulted in [an aggravation of an existing disease or physical defect] [or] [activation of a latent disease or physical defect], you should attempt to decide what portion of (claimant's) condition resulted from the [aggravation] [or] [activation]. If you can make that determination, then you should award only those damages resulting from the [aggravation] [or] [activation]. However, if you cannot make that determination, or if it cannot be said that the condition would have existed apart from the injury, then you should award damages for the entire condition suffered by (claimant).
This area of Florida personal injury law can be complex. Embrace your past medical history – don't try to hide it. If you have any questions about a Florida personal injury claim involving a pre-existing condition or prior injury call Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the Internet consultation form on the right hand side of the screen.