If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may worry that your previous injuries or health conditions such as back or neck pain, headaches, depression, anxiety or arthritis may affect your ability to pursue an injury claim and obtain fair compensation for your injury. Your worry is not unfounded, as insurance companies routinely try to deny or undervalue personal injury claims due to an accident victim’s pre-existing conditions. In fact, one of the first things defense attorneys request in standard discovery is ten years-worth or prior medical records. Fortunately, the law in on your side. Even those with chronic, pre-existing pain or injuries can become injured and deserve the same justice as someone who was never injured before. With the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can, in fact, collect compensation for a personal injury claim even if you have a pre-existing condition.

In Florida, if you have a pre-existing condition and your accident-related injury worsened or aggravated your condition, you are still entitled to full compensation for the damage caused. Florida Standard Jury Instruction 501.5 (a) states that:

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 February 1, 2018 Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases 340 the condition would have existed apart from the injury, then you should award damages for the entire condition suffered by (claimant)

Florida also recognizes a legal doctrine called the “eggshell plaintiff,” which says an individual is responsible for the full extent of the injuries they cause to someone else regardless of if the injured person had a pre-existing condition that made them more susceptible to the injury. We trial lawyers say that you must take the Plaintiff as you find him or her. For example, if someone has a pre-existing condition that causes fragile bones, and they suffer broken bones from an injury that in most people would only cause cuts and scrapes, the negligent individual who caused the injury is still responsible for the injured person’s broken bones. Additionally, if a person had a prior injury, like a disc herniation in their back, which became worse either subjectively or objectively in an accident, they can still make a claim for the harms and losses that they suffered.

If you are injured and have a pre-existing condition, it’s essential that you disclose this information to your attorneys and your doctors. You must be clear and specific about your complaints, both before and after the accident and distinguish how your pains and limitations are different after this new accident. This is important from a diagnostic perspective, as it will help your treating physicians determine how to properly treat your injuries. It is also important from a legal perspective, as the detailed medical records will help your doctors and attorneys illustrate and prove that your injury was worsened in the subject accident.

As with all personal injury cases, but especially when you have a significant prior medical history, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the incident. Follow all your doctor’s advice and attend your appointments and work hard in therapy to maximize your physical recovery.

After you are injured, your first call should be to Cutler Rader. We will hold the insurance companies to task and not allow them to undervalue or deny your claim due to your pre-existing condition. If the insurer is not responsive in properly compensating you for your injuries, we will file a lawsuit and fight aggressively for you to receive justice for your injuries.

Cutler Rader, P.L.

With over 75 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Cutler Rader understand the meaning of Justice. Our one and only mission is to get each client the justice he or she deserves; our team of attorneys never back down when we know our client is right.
We offer our clients the compassion and guidance they need as they work through trying times in their lives. The balance of working relentlessly for our clients combined with our caring approach has helped us achieve a fantastic record of success with our clients. We get our clients the justice they deserve.

At Cutler Rader, You matter. Your justice matters. Your Justice Starts Here. 954-913-2273.

References Used:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data and Statistics for Cerebral Palsy | CDC. Accessed August 1, 2022.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Causes and Risk Factors of Cerebral Palsy | CDC Accessed August 1, 2022.