Pre-Existing Conditions and their Impact on Personal Injury Cases – If a person has any pre-existing conditions and is involved in a personal injury incident, that person should tell his/her medical provider all relevant medical history, even if the injured party doesn’t see how it could be relevant (a doctor can advise why it’s important to have relevant medical history in terms of diagnosing and treating an injury, but from a legal/litigation perspective, a failure to disclose such information can be detriment, or sometimes a death knell, to a person’s case). A judge or jury, even without hearing from a doctor as to whether the withheld information would have been relevant to the causation analysis or treatment, will often infer nefarious intent on the injured party’s part in failing to disclose the information. Even a simple question like “Do You Smoke,” if answered inaccurately, could come back to haunt an injured person should that person fail to remember the accurate response. The bottom line is that it’s critical to think hard about these responses and to be honest. Something an injured person marks down one day one on a checklist he or she’s rushing through at the doctor’s office waiting to be seen could come back to haunt them three-plus years later, depending on how long the case takes to resolve.
Some people want to ignore any health issues that might have pre-dated the accident/incident because they’ve been trained to believe that health insurance companies will not honor pre-existing conditions. But in Maryland, the law is that a negligent defendant is to be held liable for any aggravation of a pre-existing condition. There’s a lot that goes into that equation, e.g., a medical opinion, a judge/jury willing to believe there was an aggravation, etc., but one doesn’t often get to that point without first being honest with their provider about the existence of a pre-existing condition. For instance, it is often difficult for a doctor to state within a reasonable degree of medical probability that a pre-existing condition was, in fact, aggravated, if no such condition was disclosed by the injured party to that particular treating provider.
So, if an injured party has ever had a neck injury and they’ve injured their neck in a recent accident, from a legal perspective I would recommend s/he talk about it freely with their doctor. This disclosure of the past injury will not that person’s case nearly as much as their hypothetical failure to disclose it would. Insurance companies have databases to search prior injuries before suit is even filed, while they are still evaluating a case. And once a case is in suit, they can issue subpoenas to any medical provider a person’s ever seen- whether s/he disclosed the provider or not. I’ve seen defense counsel issue subpoenas to medical providers within a certain mile radius of a plaintiff’s home, past and present. In short, I’d disclose everything I could remember to a doctor if I were an injured party if I thought there was any chance I’d ever be involved in negotiations with an insurance company for damages or in a later civil case for personal injuries.
If you’ve been injured in an incident involving another’s negligence and have any questions you’d like to discuss, feel free to call me at 410-793-7040 or email me at Jared@BmoreAttorney.com at your convenience, 24/7. I’d be happy to address your questions or concerns.