How A Pre-Existing Injury Can Affect Your Auto Accident Settlement
Accidents can happen anytime, causing unexpected injuries to you or your loved ones.
And when these are caused by the negligence of another person, you mustn’t leave them unresponsible.
If it happens during work, the employer should also provide workers’ compensation benefits.
It gets worse when the insurance adjuster of the defendant will quickly give your auto accident settlement worth way lesser than what it’s supposed to be.
No one wants to give out a huge amount of money even if they’re at fault. And when they want to get away from liabilities, they can simply use the claimant’s pre-existing injury as a reason.
When this happens to you, don’t settle for it. Fight for it.
Before settling into a decision, understand what a pre-existing condition is. Know how you can use this to your advantage to successfully get your auto accident settlement 100%.
What Is a Pre-Existing Injury?
A pre-existing injury, more known as a pre-existing condition, is a condition that existed before your current condition that you claim to be caused by the accident.
These are cases when the injured already have the said injuries, but they only worsened because of the accident.
How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect Your Auto Accident Settlement?
A pre-existing injury can be used against you. This gives the defendants or insurance companies a chance not to pay you.
Instead of giving you the help needed, they will look for a pre-existing condition to turn the blame to the victim.
This is the number one tactic they’ll use against you using your medical history or even the condition that just appeared because of the accident.
Pre-Existing Injury Lawsuit Example
Ann Ross, an employee of Charlotte County Public Schools, was walking quickly between classrooms when her foot got caught on linoleum flooring, which caused her fall.
She had to go through balance training after the accident. Later on, she was advised that she has a vestibular problem.
The school and its insurance company used the pre-existing “vestibular problem” condition as a way to blame the claimant about her injuries and deny her claim.
Ann Ross sued them. The school’s denial of liability wasn’t recognized by the court as it failed to provide evidence that the claimant’s vestibular problem is a pre-existing condition.
The school district was held liable for the claim. They also need to provide workers’ compensation benefits to the claimant as the accident happened during work.
Florida Supreme Court Jury Instructions
If the same denial happens to you after a driving injury, you have to remember that the Florida law protects you, the claimant.
Florida Supreme Court published jury instructions, which included a guide in personal injury cases involving pre-existing injuries or conditions similar to the example.
In Florida Supreme Court Jury Instruction 501.5: Other Contributing Causes of Damages section; it states that the injury resulted in either aggravation of an existing disease or physical defect, or activation of a latent disease or physical defect should be determined.
If determined, the jury should only award the damages created by the aggravation or activation.
If the relation between the pre-existing condition and the injury can’t be identified, the jury should award damages for the entire condition suffered by the claimant.
If injuries happened in multiple events, the events must be identified if they’re related to one another.
The events that injured the claimant by the defendant are separated from the other unrelated events. The defendant only pays for the damages he/she caused.
If the separation of events is undetermined, all are considered caused by the defendant and he/she must pay for the equivalent damages.
Workers’ Compensation Law in Florida
With Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, employers are responsible for the medical expenses and treatment of employees who are injured or sick due to work.
However, not all injuries can be compensated unless it is proven that work is the “major contributing cause” of the injuries or illnesses of the claimant.
In Section 9 of Florida Law’s Chapter 440: Workers’ Compensation, the “major contributing cause” means the cause which is more than 50 percent responsible for the injury as compared to all other causes combined for which treatment or benefits are sought.
In other words, you need to prove your work-related injury is more than 50% responsible for your condition.
Insurers will likely use this to avoid paying a claim.
What Do You Need to Prove Liability?
So how do you avoid insurers, employers, or other defendants from denying your auto accident settlement? Prove the liability.
Ways to produce credible evidence
To prove liability, you need to produce credible evidence through the following ways:
Mobile phones nowadays can capture clear images and videos. With a phone (or a digital camera) you can quickly shoot every detail of the accident scene – even the smallest details.
Start by taking wide shots of the accident scene. Include traffic indicators, skid marks, the other cars involved in the accident, and whatever else is damaged in the scene from shattered glass to broken car parts.
Don’t miss taking photos of the people and the injuries caught in the scene. Be sure your photos will support your story.
With these photos, you can convince the insurance company or the jury about the defendant’s negligence.
With your mobile phone’s video camera or a voice recorder, or even a pen and paper, you can ask the witnesses to speak or write about what they’ve seen and heard.
Those who’ve written their statements should sign and date their papers at the end. Take each’s photo while they’re holding their statements.
You can also get evidence through CCTV cameras present in nearby stores or ATM machines.
Police or incident reports
You can’t be fully attentive in an accident especially if you’re badly injured, so you can base your evidence on police reports. You can also use the photographs they took in the scene.
Take note that sometimes the police may not indicate the fault of the accident and just blame it on weather conditions or faulty roads. This is when you’ll need other types of evidence to support your claim.
Never Settle for Less
If you or your loved one is injured due to negligence or work-related causes, you need to fight for your right to get compensated.