Oftentimes clients come to me after sustaining a neck or back injury in a collision and say that it isn’t the first time they’ve suffered an injury to that area of their body. They are concerned with how their prior injury may impact their ability to recover for their newest injury and what it will all mean moving forward in their personal injury case.
Florida law recognizes that one can recover damages for injury that results in an aggravation of a preexisting condition
When confronted with these types of questions, I like to first explain to clients that Florida law does indeed recognize that a tortfeasor (the person who caused you harm) can be held responsible for damages that are a result of a preexisting physical condition being aggravated by an injury, or an injury activating a latent condition. See C. F. Hamblen, Inc. v. Owens, 172 So. 694 (Fla. 1937). I also explain that Florida has a standard jury instruction—a written instruction regarding the law that will be read to the jury after they have heard all the evidence in the case—that explains the above proposition and the state of the law. See Florida Standard Civil Jury Instruction 501.5(a).
How do we go about proving that the new collision actually made your prior injury worse?
The next step in a case where there has been a claim made that the new motor vehicle collision or incident worsened a previous injury is, of course, gathering evidence to support that claim.
Your own pain complaints
This type of evidence comes from the client first and includes a comparison of the client’s subjective complaints pre-collision and post-collision. Maybe you were seeking conservative care for an injury that you sustained a decade ago and your subjective pain complaints made to your treating physician have been consistently at a 2 on the 1-10 pain scale ever since. Now, you’ve been involved in a new collision and you are now reporting complaints in the 8-9 range to your doctors. This type of documentation can be used to show how your pain has significantly increased as a result of the new crash and has caused an aggravation of your pre-existing condition. Also important is maintaining some form of activity log or journal that documents activities and things you could do before the new crash that you are having more difficulty doing now. Even if you suffered from a previous injury, if you can show that you were able to do mostly all of your household chores but that now after the new crash you cannot vacuum nor do laundry, this will aid in support of your claim that the new collision has clearly aggravated a prior condition. Having a baseline and documentation showing your condition pre and post-crash is crucial.
Statements from friends, family members, and co-workers
These are the people who are involved in your everyday lift and can give key insight into how you were before the crash and how the crash has negatively affected you. Especially co-workers, who are viewed as being unbiased and without an interest in your case, are key to providing this type of testimony. If your co-workers know that before the collision you were able to stand on your feet all day and lift five 10 pound boxes at a time but that since the crash you’ve had to limit the weight you carry and have to sit down every 30 minutes, this type of evidence should be gathered and used to support your claim.
Expert testimony and testimony from your treating physicians can also be helpful. If your doctor is provided with all your records from prior to the new crash and has treated you or has reviewed your records post-crash, he/she will be able to opine as to how your conditions has worsened. A good radiologist can provide an opinion as to worsening positive findings on your diagnostic studies (such as your MRIs) that were taken both pre and post-collision.
Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
The fact is that most of us have suffered some type of injury in our past. When you are later involved in a motor vehicle collision, trip and fall, or other type of injury that occurs as the result of someone else’s negligence, you need to turn to an attorney who is familiar with litigating claims of an aggravation of a preexisting condition. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is well-versed in dealing with these types of claims and gathering the required evidence to secure the best outcome possible. For more information call 727-451-6900.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765