Most people will be involved in a car accident more than once in their lifetime. In fact auto insurance industry data shows the average person files a claim relating to a traffic accident about once every 17.9 years, which for most drivers means they will be in three or four accidents. Since car accidents are among the leading causes of neck and back injuries it is not uncommon for someone to suffer these injuries in more than one accident. Neck and back pain is also more common as we get older as degenerative changes start to develop when we get into our forties and beyond.
The pre-existing injury defense
Insurance companies and defense attorneys typically defend auto accident claims by trying to establish the alleged neck and back injuries pre-existed the accident. This is especially true when the plaintiff is older or has a prior history of neck or back problems. They will then attempt to prove that the plaintiff’s current condition was not caused by the accident by using some of the following techniques:
- Asking the bodily injury adjuster to check for prior claims made by the plaintiff and defense counsel to request the prior medical records
- Having the plaintiffs MRI films reviewed by their chosen radiologist who may dismiss significant findings such as herniated discs as pre-existing based on the existence of degenerative changes
- Having the plaintiff examined by a physician hired by them for the purpose of determining if injuries being claimed were caused by the accident
- Retaining engineers to evaluate the force of the impact and the likelihood that it could cause the spinal injuries plaintiff is suffering from
Combatting the pre-existing injury defense
In some cases, the driver responsible for causing an accident is liable for causing the plaintiff an aggravation or exacerbation of an already present condition. The amount of the recovery depends on the losses sustained as a result such as impaired function, lost earnings and pain and suffering. While every situation is different, there are several methods we can employ to establish the present accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries:
- Medical testimony by treating and expert physicians and radiologists contrasting the prior injury and establishing causation of the present injuries
- Contrasting the plaintiff’s activities before and after the accident
- Employment records and medical treatment logs showing the extent of the current disability
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony showing the effect on the plaintiff’s body from the force of impact
There is no doubt that a prior accident or medical history can complicate matters. A skilled and experienced Florida car accident attorney can help prove your injuries and obtain a settlement or award based on the damages you suffered in the accident.