If you are hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to be compensated for the resulting harm, whether it’s for medical expenses, missed time from work, or pain and suffering. However, it is common for the responsible party (or the insurance company that might foot the bill) to claim that a physical injury is the result of a “pre-existing condition” in an attempt to avoid paying appropriate compensation. While it is true that an at-fault party is not responsible for your underlying condition, if their negligence made your condition worse, they are responsible for the worsening of your condition.
The existence of a pre-existing condition does not bar recovery. In fact, a pre-existing condition can, under the right circumstances, help your claim if you can show that the other party’s negligence made your condition worse since there will be medical records prior to the injury establishing your baseline condition, which can make it easier to establish the change in your condition after the injury.
In a 2017 Duval County Florida case, Rosetta Harris v. PBH Mayport, LLC et al., Docket 16-2015-CA02989 in the Circuit Court for the 4th Judicial Circuit, a Florida woman recently recovered a substantial verdict despite her significant pre-existing back problems. In the Harris case, Ms. Harris had long-standing back problems over the 7 years prior to her fall. Her fall at an apartment complex owned and maintained by the defendants seriously worsened her condition such that she required long term extended pain management and chiropractic care. Following Ms. Harris’ fall, the defendants made only a minimal offer, which did not even cover her medical bills, to settle her claim. At trial, her attorneys were able to demonstrate that the defendants were negligent in maintaining the property, and that as a result of that negligence, Ms. Harris fell and suffered a significant worsening of her condition. The jury awarded Ms. Harris a significant amount in damages.
Ms. Harris’ case illustrates why it’s important to talk a lawyer after you get hurt, instead of simply taking an insurance company’s “no” for an answer. Results vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your individual case. Still, if you suffer an injury that worsens your medical condition, call a lawyer to see what options you have.
If you have suffered an injury in a fall, call our experienced personal injury lawyers at (413) 663-3200 to discuss whether you have a claim. Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP has offices in North Adams, Pittsfield and Springfield, Massachusetts and Bennington, Vermont.