Overcoming Evidence of Your Pre-Existing Medical Problems to Establish Causation and Get an Award of Damages in Your California Injury Case

In any type of personal injury case, you need proof that (1) the defendant’s negligence harmed you and (2) the harm caused you to suffer compensable damages. The latter of these two is called causation. When it comes to the element of causation, some cases may require more proof than others. If you come into court with a medical history that includes pre-existing conditions, especially a history of injury to the same part of your body that was hurt in your auto accident, your opponent will inevitably argue that the harm you are currently dealing with is not the result of your accident, but rather the result of your pre-existing condition. To make sure you don’t get snared by this “pre-existing condition” trap, you need clear proof that your overall well-being, while not perfect, clearly was far better before the accident and became markedly worse immediately after the accident and as a result of the accident. To make sure you have the evidence you need to accomplish these ends, be sure you have a skilled California injury attorney representing you.

D.C.’s case (Orange County Superior Court Case No. 30-2016-00874301) was one that included this type of issue related to causation. D.C., a senior chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy, was visiting family in southern California when his rear-end accident occurred. According to the petty officer, he was driving near Anaheim when traffic slowed ahead of him. He slowed too, but the vehicle behind him hit his rental car on the left rear side. The rear driver allegedly was going about 20-30 mph when the vehicles collided.

Before the accident, the petty officer allegedly had already experienced some problems with his back. Many years before, the petty officer had suffered a traumatic injury to his back and that had left him with ongoing back pain, which existed at manageable levels. According to the petty officer, his ongoing degree of limitation from the injury was so small that the military had cleared him for full duty and he had served in a forward position in Afghanistan just one year before the accident. That assignment included wearing a heavy helmet and toting gear that weighed 50+ pounds, according to the petty officer.

After the accident, things were allegedly very different. The petty officer asserted that he experienced severe pain that did not respond to treatment or pain management medication. He alleged that he had to stop sharing a bed with his spouse because his pain was so bad that it would wake him every 90 minutes.

All of this evidence can be very important in a case like this in establishing causation. If the jury believed that a plaintiff’s symptoms were the result of the pre-existing condition, then there would be no causation and no damages. On the other hand, if the jury was persuaded by the plaintiff’s evidence, then the element of causation would be met. In D.C.’s case, the jury ruled for the plaintiff and awarded the petty officer $12,500 in damages, which was the full amount that he had demanded from the defendant to settle the case before trial.

For your auto injury-related legal representation needs, look to the skilled San Mateo auto injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping injured people for many years. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Knowing How Much Your Injury Case is ‘Worth,’ and How This Knowledge Can Help in Your California Lawsuit, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 20, 2018

California Man Injured in Low-Speed Crash Wins $1M Verdict in ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ Case, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 20, 2016