When it comes to personal injury claims, countless people who are injured in an accident are already dealing with a condition or injury to their body, more commonly referred to as a “pre-existing condition.” Examples of pre-existing medical conditions are head injury, back pain, neck pain, and other aches and pains.
Can a pre-existing condition or drug abuse on your medical record affect your personal injury claim? It depends.
At some point in the legal process, a defense lawyer will request documents in discovery—including the injured individual’s medical records. The insurance company will then have experts review these medical records for both the new accident and any previous injuries. Unfortunately, in an effort to assert that little to no money should be paid on a new claim, insurance companies will often argue that damages or losses being claimed in a new accident are simply aggravations of the pre-existing conditions.
Whether or not a pre-existing condition or history of drug abuse will affect your current personal injury claim is dependent on the circumstances of your particular case. Pre-existing injuries may sometimes have zero impact on a new damage claim, or in other instances, may have a dramatic impact. The defense may try to use your pre-existing injury or history of drug abuse to completely eliminate their liabilities.
If the pre-existing condition did not cause you any discomfort before the accident occurred, then the driver at fault should still be held completely accountable for your sustained injuries. If, however, your pre-existing condition caused you discomfort prior to the occurrence of the accident, then the driver at fault should be held responsible for the degree that the accident aggravated your condition.
Drug abuse may make your case more complicated. Your history will make you less sympathetic to a jury, this negatively impacting your personal injury claim. Defense lawyers may also argue that your drug abuse played a part in the reason you were injured, which could potentially lower the value of your case or even negate it entirely. You may believe your drug abuse played no part in your injury, but that will not stop the opposing counsel from arguing otherwise.
If you have a pre-existing condition or drug abuse on your record, it is imperative you disclose all pre-existing injuries willingly and honestly to your attorney. This is particularly important if the new injuries affect the same areas of the body as your old injuries. Being honest and forthright about your prior injuries or history of drug abuse will establish your credibility.
On the other hand, defense lawyers and insurance adjusters will be more suspicious of your claim if there is any reason to believe you attempted to hide a prior condition or injury. Failure to divulge this information may be used to demonstrate that you cannot be trusted and be used to discredit your word, thus damaging your entire claim.
If you have been seriously injured in Ohio and are wondering how a pre-existing medical condition may affect your claim then call The Fitch Law Firm today at (855) LAW-OHIO for a free confidential initial case consultation.