Can I Still Recover Compensation for a Preexisting Back Injury?

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Apr 17, 2019 in Personal Injury

doctor checking out back injuryThere are many things personal injury victims do not know about the legal process. For example, injury victims who have a preexisting illness, like a back injury, may think there is no point in filing an insurance claim or contacting a lawyer. They may assume the injury disqualifies them from recovering compensation.

Unfortunately, they may be wrong, and they may forfeit their chance to recover compensation that can be a huge help in moving forward with their lives. This is why meeting with an experienced lawyer after suffering an injury is a good idea. The Portland personal injury attorneys at Rizk Law can meet with you for free to evaluate your situation.

Common Back Injuries

Back injuries are common injuries that people can suffer in car accidents, work accidents or other types of incidents. Common back injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains – Sprains are caused when ligaments tear or overstretch. Strains are tears in the muscle or tendon. These injuries often occur after twisting or lifting something too heavy or improperly. They are often the cause of acute back pain.
  • Herniated discs – The spinal discs in your body can become compressed and then bulge outward.
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration – This condition occurs when discs lose integrity, often due to aging. This causes them to lose their cushioning ability and often results in lower back pain.
  • Spondylolisthesis – This medical condition is caused when a lower spinal vertebra slips out of place and pinches the nerves in the spinal column.
  • Radiculopathy – This medical condition involves compression, inflammation or injury to a spinal nerve root. It occurs when a herniated or ruptured disc compresses the nerve root. It often causes pain, numbness or a tingling feeling in other parts of the body.
  • Spinal stenosis – This spinal condition involves a narrowing of the spinal column that applies pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. It causes pain or numbness when you walk. It can eventually lead to weakness in the leg and sensory loss.
  • Sciatica – This is a type of radiculopathy caused by compression from the sciatic nerve. Patients who have this condition often experience burning pain in the lower back area, as well as pain running down one leg. Some patients experience numbness and muscle weakness in the leg.

Even if you have suffered any of the preexisting back injuries above, you may not be barred from filing a personal injury claim. If your new injury aggravated an existing one, you can be compensated for your medical expenses, increased pain and suffering and other damages that you sustained.

How to Help Your Case

There are several things that you can do to help your own personal injury case, including the following:

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

After your accident, it is critical to seek immediate medical attention. The less time that there is between the accident and your medical visit, the less opportunity the insurance company will have to claim something else caused your injuries.

Disclose Your Preexisting Injuries

Do not try to cover up your preexisting injuries. This can harm your medical recovery. It can also negatively impact your credibility. This information will likely be unearthed during the discovery process, so it is best to be upfront about it.

When you meet with your doctor, work with him or her closely. Be sure that you describe the new injury and how it has impacted your old one. Explain if there is more pain, different pain or limitations the new injury has caused.

You may be concerned that the insurance company or attorneys for the other side will argue that your preexisting frailty or weakness can be used to bar you from recovering compensation. However, Oregon’s eggshell plaintiff rule says these factors cannot be used as a defense when another party’s negligence aggravates an injury.

In other words, the other party cannot argue you would have been fine if you were in normal health at the time of the accident and not more predisposed to injury because of a preexisting medical condition. You had no control over your own vulnerability at the time of the accident. If another party’s negligence caused you to suffer an injury, the other party can be held liable for damages.

The other party cannot try to reduce the value of your damages based on the fact you were already hurt. In other words, they cannot argue your damages would have been less significant if you were in better health at the time of the accident and use that as a reason to reduce the value of the damages you actually suffered.

Gather Medical Records

Medical records will be a key to the potential success of your case. While medical records are important in any personal injury case, they are particularly important in preexisting injury cases because they can demonstrate where you were injured before, how your treatment has improved your condition, how you were subsequently injured and how the new injury aggravated your existing injury. Records that may help with your claim include:

  • Medical tests you underwent during your initial injury
  • Medical tests you underwent after your subsequent injury
  • Physician reports
  • X-rays
  • Other imaging results

Having detailed records can provide a clear outline of your medical condition, before and after the accident.

Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Claim

If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, the personal injury attorneys at Rizk Law can help develop an aggressive legal strategy to help with your claim. Our attorneys have extensive experience working these types of cases and will work diligently to gather the evidence necessary to establish how your preexisting injury did not affect the subsequent injury or was aggravated because of it.

Rizk Law provides a free consultation to discuss your case. We can discuss your rights and review your legal options. If you choose to retain our services, we will charge no attorney fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.