Types of Pre-Existing Injuries
Auto accidents can aggravate a wide range of pre-existing injuries. Some of the most common include:
- Herniated disks
- Head, neck, and back injuries
- Joint injuries, such as shoulders, elbows, knees and hips
- Degenerative arthritis
Pre-Existing Injuries and Car Accidents
When evaluating a patient after a motor vehicle accident, the patients past medical history is the cornerstone of the case. It is important to identify any pre-existing injuries you have and any complications that result from them. Identify if the patient has had treatment for any related conditions, dates, procedures and maintenance treatments, if any and most recent dates of service. In general, the at-fault driver is not responsible for injuries or medical conditions that existed before the car accident. However, if the auto accident makes the injury worse, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying the additional lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering caused by the aggravation of that injury. Properly identifying and documenting the changes in your medical records is crucial to preventing the at-fault driver’s insurance company from claiming that the collision did not cause any new complications or otherwise worsen your condition.
Identifying Aggravated Pre-Existing Injuries
Often, the effects of a motor vehicle collision on a pre-existing injury will not be immediately apparent, and leaving an injury untreated can make it worse.
The car insurance company’s attorney says the injury was pre-existing. How do I prove it wasn’t?
The other party’s insurance company may try to prove an injury existed before the car accident, and if so, there will be challenges with the case. If the accident made the injury worse but didn’t cause it; as a provided there needs to be a clear clinical dilatation of all the condition. To prove the pre-existing condition, the other party will legally demand (subpoena) medical records, sometimes going back many years before the accident. For example, let’s say a patient was driving a stick shift when they were rear-ended, and the right elbow was pushed into the gearshift knob. And you as a doctor diagnosed a severely strained lower arm and elbow. From your medical records, the other party sees the patient had tennis elbow two years earlier. Opposing counsel will try to prove that the patient had a pre-existing injury or simply aggravated the old tennis elbow.