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Will a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Car Accident Case?


A “pre-existing injury” refers to an injury or condition you were suffering from before your recent car accident.  It may refer to either injuries or conditions which have resolved, or those which are chronic. If not handled carefully, a pre-existing injury could jeopardize or diminish recovery from your current car accident case.

To receive full and fair compensation, you need to prove that the injuries you are claiming in your lawsuit came about from your recent car accident.  A pre-existing injury or condition can present a stumbling block, because it is often cited by insurance companies as the source or a significant source of your current pain – rather than the recent car collision.  If an insurance company succeeds in persuading the jury with this argument, you may lose out on the full compensation you truly deserve.

How Do I Discredit Pre-Existing Injury Arguments?

In order to recover compensation in a lawsuit, you must show that you suffered new, distinct injuries in your car accident even if the new injury is aggravating an old or pre-existing injury or condition. Luckily, there are both factual and legal arguments your lawyer may use to strengthen your claim and prove that your current injuries are not just remnants of old, pre-existing ones.

You will need to gather as much information about both your current injuries and your pre-existing injuries or conditions as possible.  This information will offer invaluable details needed to make your case, and allow your lawyer to illustrate in a side-by-side comparison that they are separate injuries.  Civil lawsuits in Connecticut apply a “more likely than not” standard of proof.  This means you must prove to a jury that your current symptoms are “more likely than not” a result of the car accident.

For example, say your pre-existing injury only lasted a couple of days after an accident that happened 30 years ago. If so, it is highly unlikely that this old injury just spontaneously resurfaced. It is more likely that your recent car accident injured you.

Or perhaps you experienced a different kind of pain, in a different part of your body, before your current accident. Now, instead of a stinging sensation in your back, you feel a sharp pain in your neck. In cases like this, it is again unlikely that a previous injury is to blame.

Perhaps the pain of your previous injury has since subsided, and your doctor has already cleared you with a full bill of health. Given this information, it would be hard to pin your current injuries on a previous one.

Particular details will vary by case. What is important is to find out whether there are discrepancies between your new and old injuries. If there are, you will be better equipped for disputing claims concerning your pre-existing injury.

What If My Car Accident Exacerbated Or Aggravated My Underlying Injury or Condition?

Sometimes, your major injury is pre-existing and unresolved, but the car accident you suffered caused your symptoms to present for the first time or to worsen.  Perhaps you suffered asymptomatic arthritis in your spine, but now you are experiencing increased back pain.  Or perhaps you suffer from fibromyalgia, and your car accident caused a significant flare up.

There are legal arguments to help you.  Although, in Connecticut, a jury will not be permitted to compensate you for the underlying, pre-existing condition itself, any exacerbation, worsening or increased symptoms of that condition which resulted from the car accident are considered new injuries under the law, and you are entitled to compensation for those injuries.

What Steps Can I Take to Help My Case?

Discrediting pre-existing injury arguments depends heavily upon key medical information. For this reason, it is important to take certain precautions every time you sustain an injury.

First, you will want to describe your pain as best you can to your doctor. Tell them where your pain is occurring, when it occurs, and what the pain feels like. And of course, let them know any particular details you think are relevant to your situation. You should also keep a copy of all relevant medical records, notes, and imaging studies, as well as a list of the providers you see for treatment. This information will be important for your lawyer as you work together on the case.

When preparing for a legal battle, you will also want to be open and honest with your attorney. It is important to tell them about any previous accidents or falls you have been in and whether you were injured. You should also let them know about any pre-existing injuries or chronic health conditions you have had.  With this information, your attorney can better prepare your case should a pre-existing injury argument arise.  He or she will also recognize if your recent accident aggravated an old injury, and if that entitles you to compensation.

It is important to recognize that as part of your lawsuit, your medical records will be received not only by your attorney but by the lawyer for the insurance company – and it is usually impossible to keep previous injuries or conditions out of a case entirely.  It is much better to be candid with your attorney, so that you can work together on a strategy to handle any pre-existing injuries that could affect your case.

Our Hartford Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

Proving that your current symptoms are the result of your recent car accident is possible. However, it takes careful and diligent legal work to accomplish. Our Hartford personal injury lawyers know how best to handle these situations.

If you’re concerned about how your pre-existing injury may affect your car accident case, contact us online, or by phone at (860) 785-2011. We can help you determine your best course of action as you pursue fair compensation.

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