How will my old personal injury claims affect my current personal injury claim? This is an important issue in personal injury cases.
Because South Florida is a busy, bustling metropolitan area, accidents happen frequently. Not surprisingly, because of the large number of accidents people often get into more than one accident in their lifetime. And sometimes the accidents happen within a short time of each other.
My own personal injury practice confirms this to be true. I have represented several clients who have been involved in multiple, prior accidents close in time.
When this happens, it raises several legitimate questions and issues.
The first issue is whether the fact that you have been involved in several accident claims makes you look bad or that you are trying to take advantage of the system.
Because I’ve had multiple accident claims, will it look like I am trying to take advantage of the system?
If I had been involved in multiple prior accident claims, and now I have a new personal injury claim, I, too would be concerned about how this would be viewed by the opposing party and insurance company. Would they think I am trying to take advantage of the system? Would they think I am exaggerating my injuries or claim? Would they think I am a bad or greedy person?
These are all fair questions.
First, you have to start from the fact that it is not unusual to have been involved in multiple personal injury accident claims. If you have had more than one prior personal injury claim, it will not surprise the other party. Before I opened Barthelette Law, I used to work for insurance companies defending personal injury claims. When I reviewed background materials, I often saw the personal injury claimants had multiple prior claims. So again, this is nothing unusual.
Second, if you have had multiple personal injury claims, it does not automatically mean they impact your current personal injury claim. Your prior personal injury claims may have involved different injuries, happened many years before, or have been relatively minor. Basically, they might have nothing to do with your current personal injury claim.
Third, no one will think you are greedy if you have had multiple prior personal injury claims. There is nothing wrong or shameful with having a personal injury claim. In fact, I’ve discussed this before in a prior blog post (https://barthelettelaw.com/embarrassed-to-have-a-personal-injury-claim/).
Fourth and finally, if your prior personal injury claims are unrelated and do not overlap with your current personal injury claim, there’s a very good chance the judge will not allow the defense to discuss them at trial.
So as you can, having prior personal injury claims does not make you look bad or show that you are trying to take advantage of the system. Personal injury claims are a part of life, and there is no stigma associated with having multiple personal injury claims.
How do old my personal injury claims affect my current personal injury claim?
The answer to this question depends on the specific facts of your case. Let’s look at 4 examples to illustrate.
First Example – Two Accidents That Are Ten Years Apart
In our first example, let’s say you broke your arm 10 years ago in a slip and fall accident. You brought a personal injury claim and it settled rather quickly. Additionally, your broken arm healed and you have had no lingering problems or complications. Recently, you were involved in a car accident and injured your back.
Will your old slip and fall claim impact your current car accident claim?
No. Because the injuries are unrelated and involve different body parts, your old slip and fall claim will not impact your current car accident claim.
Second Example – Two Accidents That Are Ten Years Apart (With A Twist)
In our second example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident 10 years ago. You hurt your back but through treatment it got better and healed. Other than the occasional ache or pain, you have no ongoing symptoms. Recently, your were involved in a second car accident and again hurt your back.
Will your old car accident claim impact your current car accident claim?
Without question, the defense will try to get copies of any MRIs or other imaging studies that were done for the first accident. With the old imaging studies, the defense will compare them with any new imaging studies done for your current personal injury claim. With the two imaging studies in hand, what do they show? Do the imaging studies show any material changes in your back? Additionally, and despite the fact that your injuries healed from the first accident, did you ever complain about back pain to a doctor shortly before the new accident? If so, you can expect the defense will argue that your old personal injury claim is relevant and the cause of your current complaints and injuries.
Third Example – Two Accidents That Are Two Years Apart
In our third example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident 2 years ago and hurt your back. The claim quickly settled, and you have no lingering symptoms or complications. Recently, you were involved in a car accident and again hurt your back. Does the accident from 2 years ago impact your currently claim?
Most likely yes.
Because of the closeness in time, the defense will likely argue the injuries from your current personal injury claim are related to your prior personal injury claim. Like the prior example, the defense will compare your medical records from the old accident to the new one and look for any similarities or overlap.
Additionally, other records from the old accident may be relevant. For example, let’s say the old accident significantly damaged your car. In fact, let’s say your car was totaled. If this happened, you can expect the defense will argue the prior accident was significant and the cause of your current injuries.
Fourth Example – A Real Life Example From My Practice
My client was in his car at a stop light when he was violently hit from behind. As a result of the impact, his body was forced into his seatbelt and he broke he sternum. Thankfully, we quickly obtained a favorable settlement.
About 1 year later, the same accident and injury happened again. Through his medical records, we showed that his injuries from the first accident healed by the time of the second accident. The insurance company agreed and we again obtained a favorable settlement on his behalf.
So as you can see, each case and fact pattern will provide a different result. Your old personal injury claims may impact your current personal injury claim. It simply depends on the facts of your case.
How do I show my injuries from my prior personal claim healed from my current personal injury claim?
The best way to show that your injuries from your prior accident healed and don’t affect your current personal injury claim is through your medical records.
Naturally, if your injuries from your first accident healed, you would not be expected to get medical treatment for your injuries shortly before your current accident. Put another way, you would have a gap in treatment, which shows you healed.
Conversely, if you continued to seek medical treatment up until and shortly before the current accident, it tends to show your injuries did not heal.
Call Barthelette Law, Your Boca Raton Personal Injury Attorney
If you have prior personal injury claims and are concerned they might impact your current personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to call. We are here to answer all of your questions about how your old personal injury claims may impact your current personal injury claim.
We are Barthelette Law, your Boca Raton personal injury attorney!