When it comes to an injury accident case, how you handle any preexisting injuries may impact on the legitimacy of your current claim and how much you receive in compensation for your new injuries.
A preexisting injury can be worsened by a current injury, making your pain, mental state or physical disability worse. A personal injury lawyer can use this to your advantage to ensure you receive increased damages for your aggravated prior injuries even when you fail to get any compensation for your current injuries. Here are some factors to consider when discussing your case with your lawyer:
Disclosing preexisting injuries
If you have been involved in any form of accident that was caused by someone else, you can file a lawsuit against them for damages. The first logical step would be to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you come up with a strong claim against the at-fault party and take it before a judge or insurance adjuster.
However, it is equally important to disclose any prior injuries you might have had from other accidents, regardless of how unrelated or dissimilar they may be to the injuries you currently have. The defendant's insurer usually does research on your preexisting injuries and may attempt to deny you a settlement by claiming that your current injuries were already present.
The at-fault party's defense team may also use any prior injuries that you fail to disclose as a way to impugn your credibility and the value of your current claim. You should also never attempt to minimize the full impact of prior injuries, as an insurance adjuster may suspect the legitimacy of any new injuries if you were mendacious about prior ones.
The 'soft-shell' plaintiff argument
This is an argument your personal injury lawyer can use in front of a jury or adjuster to help you get compensation for an aggravated prior injury. The lawyer can argue that the at-fault party must take you as you are, meaning that any assessment of injury has to consider the state that you were in prior to the accident.
Therefore, if you had a preexisting injury that would have made you more susceptible to new injury, the defendant is at fault for making any such injury worse. This is a great argument especially if you are involved in a minor accident, such as a low-impact car collision, but claim a high settlement that may raise doubts to the jury. For instance, you may suffer a minor accident that aggravates a prior injury, causing permanent disability or increased pain. In such a case, the defendant would be fully responsible for your deteriorating condition and would thus be required to compensate you the appropriate amount of damages.