How Pre-Existing Conditions Or Injuries Fit Into Slip And Fall Claims
People who have pre-existing injuries or medical conditions often worry that they'll have a hard time pursuing slip and fall claims. Although a pre-existing issue can complicate the process a bit, you might be surprised to learn how good your chances of a successful claim might be. A slip and fall lawyer will look at the following factors in assessing the relative strength of a claim when a person has a pre-existing concern.
The Eggshell Skull Principle
American law requires finders of fact in injury lawsuits to take victims as they come. This is sometimes known as the eggshell skull principle. It is the idea that the existence of a pre-existing medical condition doesn't change a negligent, reckless, or malicious party's liability. As the name of the principle implies, the idea is that just because a theoretical victim might have a skull as weak as an eggshell doesn't mean the defendant is magically off the hook for damages. Instead, the law assumes that anyone with potential liability needs to take measures to protect everyone from preventable harm.
Where things get slightly trickier is proving that the defendant's decisions or inaction led to the injuries in question. If a defendant or their insurance provider wants to dig in and make a thing out of a pre-existing condition, they're well within their rights to make a claimant show that the new injuries were the result of the accident in question. For example, an insurer will probably ask you to undergo a medical exam to determine how likely the accident caused the injuries. Also, the insurer will usually want a doctor of their choice to handle the exam.
Documenting Prior Injuries or Conditions
Ideally, a claimant should have documentation from previous medical visits that show the state of their previous injuries or medical conditions. Suppose you suffered a broken wrist in a car accident a year before a slip and fall incident led to another wrist injury. A slip and fall lawyer would want to show your X-rays and exam reports from the accident. The experts could then assess how much of the current damages arise from the car accident versus the slip and fall.
Poor documentation of previous conditions or injuries can make the job tougher. Perhaps a person has spinal stenosis. However, they didn't even learn about the condition until they broke vertebrae in an accident. The fact that they never knew about the condition doesn't invalidate their claim. However, they will have to work harder to show that the injuries are specifically due to the defendant's negligence, malice, or recklessness.
To find out more, contact a slip and fall lawyer today.