Anyone can be injured suddenly and unexpectedly, and it does not have to happen in traffic. Every day, someone suffers an unexpected dog bite or slips on spilled liquid at a supermarket, and a serious personal injury is a result.
You could even be injured by a defective power tool or by a faulty appliance in your own home.
If an insurance company can prove that you were not in fact injured because their policyholder was negligent, and if the company can prove instead that your injury actually happened prior to the accident in question, the company may not be required to compensate you.
CAN YOU BE COMPENSATED IF YOU HAVE A PRE-EXISTING INJURY?
Nevertheless, you may still qualify to be compensated after an accident if you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition that was noticeably exacerbated because of the accident.
To obtain just compensation, you will have to prove that the accident was a direct cause of the decline in your medical condition.
In the state of Louisiana, if you are injured in any way by a negligent person in any kind of accident, you will need the legal guidance and representation that an experienced New Orleans personal injury attorney can offer.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A PRE-EXISTING INJURY OR MEDICAL CONDITION?
Pre-existing injuries or medical conditions may be physical or psychological. A pre-existing condition might be something like, for example, high-blood pressure, a heart condition, clinical depression, asthma, or type-2 diabetes.
A pre-existing injury is any old injury that still occasionally causes pain and irritation or that never fully or properly healed. It could be an arm, leg, back, neck, or head injury.
You must be absolutely honest and forthright with your personal injury lawyer regarding any pre-existing medical condition or injury. Full disclosure lets your attorney work effectively with medical experts who can prove that your condition was exacerbated because of the accident.
WHY IS FULL DISCLOSURE OF YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY IMPERATIVE?
Failing to make full disclosure to your attorney regarding a pre-existing medical condition or injury could severely damage your chances of acquiring compensation. Adhering entirely to your attorney’s advice and recommendations is always the best strategy in these cases.
While a pre-existing medical condition or injury may mean that a person is more likely than someone else to be injured, that person has as much legal protection – through the legal principle of “equal protection under law” – as someone without a pre-existing medical condition or injury.
WHAT IS THE “EGGSHELL PLAINTIFF” RULE?
In Louisiana state law, the “eggshell plaintiff rule” helps explain how the aggravation of pre-existing injuries and medical conditions is handled in personal injury cases. Under this rule, plaintiffs must be considered individually “as they are” in terms of their personal health.
When a defendant’s negligence exacerbates someone else’s pre-existing medical condition or injury, the defendant may be ordered by the court to compensate the victim to the extent of the exacerbation.
Your medical records can provide powerfully persuasive evidence regarding any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries – and how they may be aggravated as the result of an accident.
WHAT WILL YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS NEED TO INDICATE?
Ideally, your medical records should be detailed and comprehensive. Documentation prior to the accident should describe how severe the original injury or illness was and how it affected your life.
Medical records created subsequent to the accident should illustrate how the accident has exacerbated your pre-existing injury or illness, should list the symptoms you experienced after the incident, and should indicate how the aggravated injury or condition has affected your life.
Your accident attorney will need your medical records, diagnostic test results, and probably a statement from your physician. In some cases, your accident attorney may ask a medical expert witness to testify before the court or to provide a statement on your behalf.
HOW HAVE LOUISIANA COURTS RULED IN THESE CASES?
How the eggshell plaintiff rule applies in this state was clearly demonstrated by Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeal in the case of Augustine v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
In that case, a 74-year-old woman was driving at a low speed when her Mercury Grand Marquis was struck from behind by a Mini Cooper. The woman was awarded $50,000 in a personal injury trial – after jurors heard expert testimony – although there was no damage to the vehicles.
Prior to the accident, the woman suffered from arthritic pain, but subsequent to the collision, she testified that she now experienced more frequent and more severe pain.
The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s judgment, and in 2012, the Louisiana Supreme Court agreed.
HOW WILL AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
A skilled personal injury lawyer will know how to show a jury that a pre-existing injury or medical condition was exacerbated by an accident.
Far too often, people who have pre-existing injuries or medical conditions fail to take advantage of their rights. They presume that a pre-existing injury or medical condition will disqualify them for compensation after an accident that exacerbates that injury or condition.
That presumption is wrong. Everyone has equal protection under the law. You have rights, and if you are injured by negligence, you should exercise those rights.
IF YOU’RE INJURED BY NEGLIGENCE, WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
Particularly in Louisiana, where the state’s Supreme Court has spelled out the rights of those with pre-existing injuries or medical conditions, if you are injured – or if your health declines – because someone else was negligent, talk to a lawyer with substantial personal injury experience.
A qualified personal injury attorney will protect an injury victim’s rights, gather the evidence, work with medical experts, and fight aggressively for the compensation and the justice that an injury victim needs.
If you are accidentally injured in the state of Louisiana by someone who’s negligent, and if your medical condition deteriorates in any way as a result of that accident and negligence, arrange at once to speak to an accident attorney.
That is your right. Your first meeting with an accident attorney is free, so it costs nothing to learn more about your rights. If your health is at stake, you must get the legal help you need – at once.