I have a pre-existing, underlying illness and was injured, can I still recover for my injuries?
Yes, you can still recover for injuries, even if you have a pre-existing condition. Instead of recovering for the initial onset of your injuries, you can recover for the exacerbation or the compounding of the existing you have. In civil parlance, the concept is known as the “egg-shell plaintiff” theory. If a person is in a medically fragile state, it is reasonably foreseeable that if someone were to injure such a person, that the medically fragile person’s existing condition would become worse due to a new injury. In essence, negligent parties take their plaintiffs as they find them. So, even if your foot was already broken and due to a drunk driver, your foot was reinjured, you can still sue them for the lost recovery time and the rebreaking of your foot.
There are many examples of such injuries in personal injury claims, especially motor vehicle accidents. Plaintiffs often have injuries associated with aging that are under control before their accident, but are thrown into a medically fragile state after an accident. For example, a persistent lower back injury is may be made worse when they are rear-ended in a low speed collision. Oftentimes, people being treated for anxiety or depression disorders are thrown into an unmanageable mental state after seeing a car coming at them at a high speed.
There are many bodily injuries that can be made worse after a motor vehicle accident beyond just aching backs and anxiety issues. In the past, we have seen clients with internal organ issues, such as digestive problems or hereditary kidney disease, whose symptoms are made considerably worse by a car accident. But how does one measure these injuries. The injuries in these cases are measured by the difference and duration in treatment methods from before the accident compared to after the accident. For example, even if a person was undergoing something as extreme as dialysis treatment before an accident, now requires a kidney transplant after an accident, the defendant is responsible for the difference in cost, pain, and suffering associated with the kidney transplant.
The attorneys at Johnston Martineau are experts at presenting these issues to insurance companies. Not all attorneys understand how to demonstrate that your injury was made worse by someone else’s negligence. There is not a single adult over the age of 30 that doesn’t have some pre-existing condition or past medical issue. Thus, it is imperative that the attorney you work with understands that distinction in injuries.
The most frequent pre-existing conditions that are impacted by an accident or a slip and fall are mental health issues and neck issues. As mental health is becoming more into the forefront of mainstream healthcare, more people are seeking treatment and receiving said treatment. That’s a great thing—as mental health is crucial to every individual’s success. Mental health treatment may include medication, group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and many other treatment options. These various options bring enormous relief to millions. An accident or secondary injury can untangle and erase all of the progress that you’ve achieved.
For example, a person with chronic anxiety that has been successfully treated and controlled with the assistance of a doctor, can have all of that undone during an accident. The sight and sound of a car coming at you can make your anxiety return with a vengeance and leave you to pick up the pieces at square one all over again. You wouldn’t dispute that you had anxiety, but you had it under control. But for that negligent driver, you effectively wouldn’t be at the beginning of your treatment once again. Therefore, that return to an untreated state must be compensated to you from the defendant.
Similarly, many adults have chronic issues in their upper torso due to issues such as a compression of their cervical vertebrae. These compressions are oftentimes dubbed 21st Century injuries as they may be associated with working at a desk or in front of a computer. With simple interventions, these debilitating conditions can be treated with the help of a physician. But, much like how a car accident can reignite mental health issues, a car accident can similarly re-injure your neck, back, and spine. In many ways, such an exacerbation of an existing injury is really a new injury in that you went from a state of zero pain to once again being in agony. Therefore, the defendant is liable for that re-opened injury and exacerbation.
Another frequent pre-existing condition is fibromyalgia in female clients. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that, if not treated, can be enormously debilitating and prevent someone from having a meaningful existence. With treatment, a person can achieve as much of an existence as any person without the condition. Doctors tend not to be the most well-versed in understanding fibromyalgia, but that doesn’t mean it is not a real condition. Make sure to see a specialist, such as a rheumatologist or orthopedist for treatment options.
When clients come to our office that have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia before an accident, they will oftentimes say that other attorneys have turned them down. It appears that other law firms are afraid to take on clients with fibromyalgia. They are nervous about untangling which injuries, pains, and treatments apply to the pre-existing condition and which are related to the claim that you are seeking help with at our office. People with fibromyalgia are just as worth of seeking a claim as those that don’t have such a diagnosis. We specialize in being able to provide assistance to those with pre-existing conditions. We welcome all those with pre-existing conditions, including those with fibromyalgia.
There is no pre-existing condition too great for us to consider. Our goal is to make you whole again and to put you back into the condition you were in prior to your injury. That’s why people call Johnston Martineau. If you need help, contact our law firm! A marriage license does not require fanfare, but it does require you to take the first step. For more information or to answer your legal questions, please contact Johnston Martineau today!