Pre-existing conditions are definitively covered in Florida car accident law. Florida Civil Jury Instruction provides as follows:
“If you find that the defendants caused a bodily injury, and that the injury resulted in an aggravation of an existing disease or physical defect or activation of a latent disease or physical defect, you should attempt to determine what portion of the claimant’s condition resulted from the aggravation or activation. If you can make that determination, then you should award only those damages resulting from the aggravation or activation. However, if you cannot make that determination, or if it cannot be said that the condition would have exited apart from the injury, then you should award damages for the entire condition suffered by claimant”
Steinger, Greene & Feiner’s largest settlements or jury verdicts are a result of aggravation of a pre-existing condition, including a $5.8 million verdict to a plaintiff that already was severely injured from a prior injury. We have cases were our clients might be suffering from cancer or already in a wheelchair. The insurance companies sometimes think that it is open season on people that already are greatly suffering.
This is ridiculous thought. My belief is the injuries are more severe once someone already has a compromised physical well-being and is then further harmed. Those injuries are of course made worse. Juries many times are asked to try to separate-out the injuries that are attributable due to the prior condition and those as a direct result of the new case.
The American Medical Association Guidelines to Permanent Injury, 6th Edition gets it correct when they utilize an additional percentage of impairment rating when the accident victim is already suffering from a previous disease, or defect. It only stands to reason that an injury on top of a pre-existing condition will only serve to make that person worse.