Do You have a Preexisting Medical Condition?

Very few people are in 100% perfect health when they are involved in a motor vehicle accident, suffer a slip-and-fall incident in a retail establishment or some other scenario in which the person suffers injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence. Given the presence of a preexisting medical condition, it is quite common, for example, that someone with a history of lower back pain may suffer an exacerbation of that condition if involved in a motor vehicle accident.  This situation brings up a complicated issue regarding what damages the injured person can expect to receive if he or she ends up filing either a claim with the responsible party’s insurer or a lawsuit against the motorist that caused the accident.  Simply put, how does one account for the exacerbation of a victim’s preexisting medical condition resulting from the negligent party’s actions?

Evaluating a Preexisting Medical Condition

The answer is often much simpler than most people expect.  Given that a person with a preexisting health condition often is receiving treatment for that condition prior to the incident in which he or she was injured, there will be medical records that reflect the baseline of the preexisting condition immediately prior to the incident.  Therefore, if you have a preexisting lower back injury, there will likely be records of the exact condition of your lower back immediately prior to the accident that will show exactly the type and nature of the problems you were having, i.e., what level of pain you were experiencing, where the pain was located, any functional difficulties this condition may have caused you, among other data points.  Although at trial, both sides typically will offer expert testimony as to what portion of the injuries, and the medical treatment received by the accident victim, are attributable to the preexisting condition and what is attributable to the exacerbation, the injured party often has the upper hand.  The defense will typically offer the opinion of a medical expert who will testify that there was little to no exacerbation in a preexisting condition as a result of the motor vehicle accident or scenario in which you were injured. This is a much more difficult position to support than offering several of your pre-incident treating physicians to testify as to the exact condition of your back at the time you were rear-ended versus the same physicians then testifying as to the state of your back when they see you immediately after the accident.  The same is true with expert witnesses; an expert witness for the injured party will have your pre-incident medical records to compare with your post-incident medical records to show the jury exactly how your preexisting condition was exacerbated.  This is one reason it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney like Schwed, Adams & McGinley represent you; we have tried-and-tested experts who can help to explain exactly what your pre-incident condition was and how your preexisting medical condition was worsened by the accident.

How Does This Play Out in Real Life in a Personal Injury Case?

Under Florida law, you have the right to recover for whatever injuries you suffered from an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.  This includes whatever exacerbation to a preexisting medical condition may have occurred because of an incident in which you were injured by someone else’s negligence.  Taking the above scenario in which you had lower back issues prior to being involved in a motor vehicle accident as an example, back injuries like this are routinely treated with a variety of different medical interventions including physical therapy, trigger point injections for pain relief and chiropractic care, up to and including surgery.  However, orthopedic surgeons treating you for such a condition likely will be ordering and obtaining regular X-ray or MRI imaging to determine the status of whatever part of your spine or lower back is injured.  Thus, you will have a baseline from which a properly qualified expert witness can look at a pre-incident MRI image and a post-incident MRI image and break down for the jury in plain English the difference in your condition.  It is difficult to refute such concrete evidence, but defense lawyers and insurance companies often try anyway.

The defense will often hire an expert to offer the opinion that whatever injuries you are claiming occurred as a result of a motor vehicle accident or other scenario were there before you even were involved in the incident, i.e., that there was no exacerbation of your preexisting medical condition as a result of the incident in which you were injured.  However, this ignores the fact that there is often objective medical evidence not only (i) of the fact that you did have a pre-existing injury but also (ii) the nature of that preexisting medical condition at the time that you were involved in the incident in which you were injured.  This is made even easier where you have a physician already treating you for the preexisting condition, because you will have medical records from that treatment.  Thus, there can be little to no question that whatever condition is reflected in a post-incident MRI or X-ray compared with the same imaging taken pre-incident would be directly the result of the incident.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A.

Motor vehicle accidents and other personal injury scenarios in Florida occur with dangerous regularity.  At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents, and other personal injury scenarios in Florida. If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right under Florida law to receive compensation for your injuries, including exacerbation of any preexisting medical condition(s) you may have had at the time of the incident in which you were injured.  At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, we have a team of trusted medical experts that can explain in simple and easy-to-understand terms to a jury what portion of your preexisting condition is old and what is new and caused by the accident in which you were injured.  Therefore, if you, a family member or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident or any other situation caused by someone else’s negligence in Florida, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.