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Pre-Existing Conditions in Car Accidents

Posted in Car Accident Law,News,Personal Injury,Rear End Car Accident on September 25, 2014

A pre-existing condition is often a sticking point in personal injury lawsuits after a car accident, usually because the at-fault driver and his insurance company will try to dodge the bullet, and claim that the car accident did not cause the victim’s pain and suffering. But the truth is that a car collision can severely aggravate a pre-existing condition—a bad knee, strained back, stiff neck, etc.—and cause more harm to the victim as a result. Personal injury attorneys in Florida say that in these cases, injured parties need to take steps to protect themselves and prove the damage done to them in the crash. 

Many victims of car accidents may not know that they can still bring a personal injury suit against the driver if they have suffered further pain from a pre-existing injury. The suit can request compensation for medical bills and procedures done as a result, if their condition was worsened by the impact of the collision, as well as restitution for the pain and suffering caused by the condition’s aggravation or flare-up. 

Florida’s laws provide options for recovery when a negligent driver’s actions causes a condition or injury that existed before the accident to be aggravated or made worse, either temporarily or permanently. Temporary aggravation is applied when the injury is temporary, or self-limiting, and causes only a short-term increase in pain or symptoms, such as a sprained ankle that has been jolted or re-strained in a car collision. This type of aggravation is usually referred to as “exacerbation” of the condition, and can be fixed after a limited impairment period and medical treatment or procedures. Once the condition has been treated or fixed—in this case, the ankle has healed after the sprain—the victim will be restored to his or her former health status, and can return to work, hobbies, and a regular lifestyle. 

When a person’s pre-existing condition has been permanently aggravated, the injured person suffers permanent damages or changes to the normal course of an ailment or condition. The permanent aggravation of that condition causes damage that will never be fully reversed or healed, and therefore never return to their health status before the injury. Often, a doctor will wait to make the determination that an aggravation is temporary or permanent, once the person has reached his or her “maximum medical improvement,” at which time his or her activities of daily living (ADL) will not progress further in year, with or without the help of medical treatment.  

If you have been involved in a car accident that left you suffering from an exacerbated injury, do not assume that this is the normal course of action, or that you do not have a case, Florida personal injury lawyers recommend. A pre-existing condition may not flare up immediately following an accident, but rather, take a few days—or even a few weeks—to show itself and to cause you pain, particularly if the injury is to your head or back. Visiting a doctor immediately after an accident can head off serious complications, and lend validity to your claim of aggravated injury. 

For further help in protecting yourself and your health after an accident, contact David I Fuchs, a personal injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to discuss your options today.