It is important to disclose a pre-existing condition so that your attorney has a full understanding of your medical history to make the strongest possible case in your favor. Withholding the existence of a pre-existing condition could prove to be detrimental to the outcome of your case. If it is revealed later on that you were actively trying to hide your pre-existing condition, your credibility may be damaged or even lost. The amount of compensation a Plaintiff is awarded in a personal injury case is not necessarily always affected by a pre-existing condition, so it's better to reveal your condition early on rather than withhold the information.
Your attorney's goal is to clearly show the defendant's liability for your injury, the nature and extent of your injury, and the damages you deserve to be awarded in compensation for your injury. While in most cases, personal injury attorneys try to negotiate a fair settlement to avoid a trial, this isn't always the case. If you end up having to go to trial, disclosing as much information as possible on your pre-existing condition will help your attorney make the best case they can to the jury and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
If your case is brought to trial, a "discovery" will take place which is a process that occurs before a trial in an attempt by both sides to find out information regarding the case through witness testimony and relevant documents. As a result of this process, you should be prepared to be asked and to answer detailed questions about your health and medical history. Often attorneys and insurance companies will request medical records dating back several years as part of the discovery process. This is why it is crucial to reveal your pre-existing condition to your attorney prior to starting a trial as it will likely be revealed when your medical records are requested. Failure to discuss a previous injury or medical condition with your attorney could result in a more difficult trial or lower settlement.
The amount of damages you could collect on your claim depends heavily on the severity of your injury and the level of liability placed on the defendant. An example of how a pre-existing condition could affect your case is if there is an argument made to reduce the defendant's liability, such as contributory negligence. This argument could reduce the amount of damages that you are awarded as the defendant's attorney could make an allegation claiming that you were partially at fault for the accident in which you were injured.
In the case of a pre-existing condition, your attorney would need to show that the injury you sustained was caused by the defendant's negligence. This is based on the principle that the defendant "takes the victim as he finds him" meaning that your previous injury does not reduce the damage award you could receive or excuse the actions of the defendant and the responsibility they have towards damages they caused you. It could mean, however, that it will be harder to prove "causation" which links the defendant's actions to injuries you sustained from the accident. In addition, it could lead to insurance companies arguing that it is your responsibility to show what portion of your injury is due to your pre-existing injury and which is due to the recent accident.
A pre-existing condition does not prevent you from receiving an award, however, it does make disclosing as much information as possible regarding your medical condition to your attorney all more important. Your attorney is often able to prove that your injury was caused by the accident if you were no longer receiving treatment for your pre-existing condition. Even if you are unsure if your pre-existing condition is important to reveal, it is always wise to be as open and honest as possible with your attorney about your pre-existing condition to give them the opportunity to achieve the amount of compensation that you deserve.
For more information on Pre-Existing Conditions In A Personal Injury Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (760) 721-8182 today.