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"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
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Pre-existing Conditions & Injury Aggravation


Personal Injury

The Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. take note of a common area of inquiry often presented by clients—the extent to which a victim’s physical condition prior to an accident can affect a personal injury claim. If you have concerns over prior injuries, pre-existing medical conditions, injury aggravation, and/or age-related degeneration factors—you are not alone. In fact, the overwhelming majority of PI cases do involve one or more of these issues.

Far too often, accident victims with pre-existing conditions feel that they either do not have a claim, or that they may only be able to recover a nominal amount of financial compensation. Insurance companies are well aware of this, and will often use this to their advantage in order to justify low-ball settlement offers, and coerce victims into accepting payouts that are far less than what is deserved.

As injury lawyers, we find the tactics that many insurance companies use in an effort to maximize profits and minimize losses to be disgraceful. For this reason, it is absolutely critical that victims fully understand the law in Florida regarding pre-existing conditions and injury aggravation, prior to entering into an agreement to settle and/or signing any document that releases, waives, or limits the right to financial compensation.

Let’s explore some examples…

Pre-existing Condition that makes victim More Susceptible to Injury. For example, a person that has a disease, illness, disorder, congenital defect, or pre-existing condition that puts them at higher risk for infection, head/brain trauma, or some other type of injury or harm. The law is clear on the fact that tortfeasors take their victims as they find them. In other words, the simple fact that the victim may be more fragile, vulnerable, or predisposed to injury, does not, in and of itself, limit the extent of liability that can be attributed to the tortfeasor. This is often referred to as the “eggshell doctrine” or “thin-skull-rule.”

Asymptomatic Degenerative changes. As a person ages, so does their body—this is a natural, normal, and expected result of growing older. Age-related degenerative factors are treated much like pre-existing conditions, in that wrongdoers take victims as they are. Consequently, injured victims with normal asymptomatic degenerative changes or naturally occurring processes that did not cause impairment or disability prior to an accident are typically regarded as incidental, and therefore, will generally not affect or limit the sum to which a plaintiff is entitled to receive.

Exacerbation or Aggravation of Prior Injury. There are countless ways in which a prior injury can be aggravated, worsened, flared-up, or exacerbated. In some cases the victim may have fully recovered from the injury, or was in a state of remission at the time of the accident. Assessing causation in injury-aggravation cases is highly case-specific. The extent of the defendant’s liability will typically hinge upon whether or not it is possible to determine what portion of the victim’s bodily injury resulted from the aggravation or activation. If this determination cannot be made, or if it cannot be said that the condition would have existed apart from the injury, then the defendant can be held liable for the entire condition suffered by the victim.

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Cases that involve pre-existing conditions, degenerative changes, or injury aggravation can be highly complex, particularly in matters where a trial is necessary. Proper analysis from both a legal and medical perspective is crucial. These types of personal injury cases are more likely to require the use of medical experts for consulting and/or testimonial purposes. In addition, such cases generally require specialized jury instructions.

Selecting an attorney that has the expert resources, support staff, legal knowledge, litigation skills, and prior experience representing clients in similar matters can make a profound difference in the outcome of your injury claim. The Gainesville Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. offers each of these benefits, and so much more. We are client focused and results driven.