Personal Injury and Pre-Existing Conditions
If you are involved in an automobile, truck or motorcycle accident in Ohio, and are injured, the first thing the party-at-fault’s insurance company is going to ask for is your medical records. They are trying to find out your medical history and any pre-existing condition you may have.
You may be under the impression that a prior injury precludes you from getting a settlement, but this is not true. You need a knowledgeable attorney in personal injury cases that has had previous experience with claims such as yours to represent you. You should never give statements to the at-fault parties insurance company, especially right after the accident, without your attorney being present. You might still be in a state of shock when answering questions about your medical history and leave out prior health issues that the insurance company later finds out about.
If the case goes to court, the defense attorney will claim you were being untruthful while being questioned and withheld a prior medical condition and are probably being untruthful now about your injuries, creating a credibility issue.
Your attorney will be familiar with Ohio case law when dealing with the insurance company, or defense attorney if the case goes to court. Under the “eggshell skull” rule, just because a victim has weakness because of the aging process, therefore being more susceptible to injury, it does not make the negligent party any less liable for damages.
With a pre-existing injury, there are three factors brought into play; (1) Having a condition that caused no pain prior to the accident, for instance a medical exam may show a degenerative issue with your back that has been going on since before the accident, but medical records also show you have never been treated for it as it has caused no problems for you or you might even have been unaware of its existence. (2) A condition that is present, causes pain, and has been aggravated by the accident and (3) A condition that is present, causes the same amount of pain as before the accident. In this case, there would likely not be a recovery for this condition but does not preclude recovery for other injuries sustained in the accident.
Your attorney is going to present your case by providing medical opinions from your doctor(s), and statements from family, friends and co-workers about your activities prior to the accident; your abilities to perform household duties, your job, participation in sports and how you performed every day tasks.
They will point out any conditions you had prior to the accident and how, because of another’s negligence, you no longer can perform certain duties and have incurred additional medical treatments and a higher level of pain and suffering. They will show that the negligent party cannot escape financial liability because their client was more vulnerable to injury or had a pre-existing condition. Persons with a pre-existing condition can still recover damages for injuries that aggravate their prior level of pain and is permissible in Ohio because if it were not for the accident the client would not be in additional distress.