Can plaintiffs win with pre-existing health ailments

Sometimes, a person who goes into court suing for damages is someone who was nearly 100% healthy prior to her accident, only to suffer serious afflictions after the crash. Proving that the accident caused her injuries may be relatively straightforward for that injured person. Many times, though, reality is not so black-and-white. An injured person may have pre-existing health problems, perhaps even several such conditions. Just because you have pre-existing conditions — even serious ones — doesn’t mean that you cannot win your case and do not deserve to receive damages. You deserve to receive fair compensation regardless of your medical past and you should contact a knowledgeable Louisiana injury attorney to help you make sure you get that compensation.

A recent case from Evangeline Parish involved such a litigant with pre-existing conditions. Two women were driving along a four-lane road in 2013 when they collided. Each described very different versions of the accident, with each pinning the blame on the other. The rear driver, L.A., sued for her injuries, which included harm to her back, both legs, right arm and right shoulder. The case went to trial and the jury found each driver to be 50% at fault. The jury also found that L.A. suffered no injury in the accident and was entitled to no damages.

In civil trial cases, the law gives the jury a pretty broad degree of leeway in making its determinations. The jurors are charged with the job of determining credibility and making findings of fact, so a losing litigant generally cannot succeed by arguing that a jury made the wrong finding of fact. Sometimes, though, a jury’s findings are so far outside the reasonable interpretation of the evidence that was presented at trial that a court may throw out some or all of what they decided.

The jury in L.A.’s case concluded that the injured woman suffered no harm as a result of the accident. It is possible that the jury made this incorrect determination because L.A. had many pre-existing conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heel spurs, bone spurs and morbid obesity. Also, the proof showed that some of these problems were made worse by two previous auto accidents in which L.A. was injured – one in 2009 and one in 2012.

Nevertheless, L.A. had a doctor who testified that her neck pain was the result of the 2013 accident, and that her back pain was, while a pre-existing condition, definitely made worse by the 2013 crash. Another doctor concluded that L.A.’s right shoulder and arm pain were “more probably than not” related to her 2013 accident.

According to the appeals court, it was obvious that L.A. “was in poor physical health” and had been “a chronic pain patient for several years” before her 2013 accident. Despite all of that, the law in Louisiana is very clear: a defendant takes an injured plaintiff as she finds her. What that means is that regardless of how bad an injured driver or passenger’s pre-existing state of well-being was, the defendant is still legally responsible for all consequences of her negligence, whether those are the plaintiff’s new injuries or exacerbations of pre-existing ones.

Saying that L.A. suffered no harm from the 2013 accident was not reasonable. Based on the evidence that L.A. had provided, the appeals court decided that she should have received $100,000 in general damages and $40,167 in medical expense damages.

You may have certain disadvantages that you must overcome as part of your auto accident injury lawsuit. One of those might be the presence of pre-existing medical problems. Whatever the disadvantage, do not let it discourage you and intimidate you into not pursuing your legal options. Instead, reach out to the Cardone Law Firm to find out more about how our skilled Louisiana injury lawyers can help your family get the compensation you deserve.

For your confidential consultation contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.

More Blog Posts:

How much is my knee injury worth?, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Nov. 29, 2018

An Injured Louisiana Man’s Successful Appeal Nets Him an Award of $58,000 in His Truck Accident Case, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Nov. 18, 2018

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