In automobile accident cases, it is quite common for an injured party to make a claim for neck or back pain. In fact, spine injuries are the most common form of injury resulting from a car accident. These claims can become complicated if you have ever had neck or back pain prior to the date of the accident. The truth is that many people, especially those who are middle aged and older, have seen a doctor for back or neck pain at some point in their life. It is a fact of life that we tend to have degenerative changes in our spine as a result of the natural aging process. The condition of your spine can be further impacted by your level of activity throughout your lifetime, as well as the nature of your work – for example, hard labor versus sedentary office work.
The at-fault party’s insurance company will always seize on the opportunity to blame your injuries on something other than the accident caused by their insured. One of the insurance company’s favorite tactics is to argue that the claimant had a prior injury and that they are therefore not responsible for the injuries being claimed. The defense will obtain all of your prior medical records in the hopes that they will find some prior complaints of pain to the same part of your body that you are complaining about now. They will then argue to the jury that your injury actually existed prior to the accident and was therefore not caused by the accident.
It is very important that an injury claimant is completely honest with his attorney and discloses all prior injuries and accidents. Most of the time, while the claimant may have had prior neck or back pain, those problems were no longer causing problems and had resolved well before the accident at issue. In those scenarios, it will be difficult for the defense to argue that their accident did not cause the injuries being claimed because the prior medical records can help prove that the claimant had not had any recent issues and the accident therefore caused new injuries.
However, you need to be truthful about your prior injuries when meeting with your attorney, like a Tampa, FL personal injury lawyer. If you fail to disclose prior injuries, or perhaps even assert you had no prior injuries when in fact you did, the insurance company will expose this and portray you as a liar in front of the jury. If a jury does not believe you are credible, you will almost always lose your case.
Even if the Plaintiff had ongoing issues and pain leading up to the accident, the collision often makes the pain worse. Florida and many other states allow a claim for aggravation of a preexisting condition. For example, if a Plaintiff had neck pain and complained to a doctor just a month prior to an accident, but the accident aggravated the pain and possibly even made it worse, a jury can award damages for the aggravation of the prior condition.
The factual and legal issues surrounding prior injuries can be complex. It is therefore critical that you speak with an experienced injury attorney to discuss the effects that a preexisting condition can have on your injury claim.
Thanks to Jeff Murphy Law for their insight into personal injury cases.