Pre-Existing Injuries And Causation In Car Accident Cases
One thing that accident victims have to prove to win their personal injury case is that the accident actually caused their injury. That sounds easy. But in looking closer, that can actually become quite difficult–especially when you have what is known as a pre-existing injury.
Let’s take a typical car rear end scenario. A car hits you from behind. You get out of your car, and immediately sense pain in your lower back. You go to the hospital, and afterwards to your treating doctor. Either X Rays or MRIs find a problem in the disks in your back.
Did the accident cause those injuries? It may seem pretty obvious that they did.
Accidents From Long Ago
But what if, long before the car accident, you had suffered another kind of accident–say, an accident while playing sports, or while at work, or while exercising? Is the pain you feel now, and the results of the MRI, a result of the accident you just had in the car–or are they the result of your previous injury, from long before the car accident?
This is exactly what many defendants in car accident cases allege, and it’s why they, and the insurance companies that represent them, often fight car accident cases as hard as they do. Their position is that your pain, suffering, or disability, actually were there long before the car accident–or otherwise, that the car accident didn’t cause your pain, it just made it a little worse.
You Can Still Recover
If this is the case, the law works in your favor. Standard jury instructions in Florida say that even if a negligent Defendant exacerbates (makes worse) an injury or disability that you had before the accident, you can still recover damages. So, you don’t actually have to show that a Defendant caused your injury. You just need to show that the Defendant made your injuries worse than they were before the accident.
Often, medical experts can testify as to causation, and as to why your pain is the result of the accident, and not some other long standing problem. A doctor can read your MRIs or X-Rays, and often render an opinion as to how long the injuries or abnormalities have been there.
Then there are the common sense arguments. Were you going to work every day before the accident? Going to the gym? Cleaning your house on your own? If you were doing those things without pain before the accident, but after the accident you can’t do them (or can’t do them as well, or as often) it is more likely that the accident caused your current disabilities–not some accident from forever ago.
The insurance company will find any reason to deny paying you. We can help. Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law with any questions you may have.