Insurance Coverage / Auto Accident /Pre-Existing Injury , Spring 2012
Our firm just successfully settled a case for our client who was in an auto accident but who also had pre-existing injuries and had an extensive medical history. Fortunately, in Florida, the law recognizes claims for aggravation of a pre-existing injury.
In 1979, our client was involved in a head on collision with an automobile while he was riding a motorcycle and sustained catastrophic injuries. He had injuries to his lower back with herniations to discs and fractures to vertebrae. Our client had to undergo emergency surgery that included fusing three levels of his lumbar vertebrae and the use of steel hardware. He was left a paraplegic for months following the surgery with no sensation in his lower limbs and other personally devastating side effects including the loss of sensation from his mid-section down into the legs.
After months of intensive physical therapy, our client regained the ability to walk but still suffered from significant pain and continued loss of sensation. He was able to return to work until approximately 1995, when he was picking up a bad and re-aggravated his pre-existing lower back injury which required another surgery to his lower back to treat the re-injured lumbar spine. After extensive physical therapy he returned to work but under constant pain and movement limitations.
While working at his new job, our client fell, causing a devastating injury to his lower back and now to his cervical spine (neck) in which he had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery to an already delicate lumbar spine to stabilizing it. His surgeon also recommended that he have cervical surgery to treat his neck injury. He was declared permanently disabled by the Federal government and could no longer work.
During the decade preceding the accident for which we represented him, the client’s medical records indicated that he had constant complaints of pain, numbness and difficult walking. He spent days lying on the couch unable to participate in physical activity for more than a couple of hours a day. In 2010, our client was involved in an automobile accident. Our attorneys took on the daunting task of representing this gentleman. He ultimately had to undergo cervical surgery and lumbar surgery again to repair damage from the auto accident. (Our client had elected not to undergo cervical surgery that had been recommended in 1999.)
Following considerable litigation and depositions of innumerable experts, our firm was able to obtain a settlement for our client from the insurance company for a total of $1,950,000.00. Significantly, this is probably the most difficult case the attorneys at the firm have encountered relative to such an extensive list of injuries predating a claim. This case illustrates that although pre-existing injuries may affect the value of a case, they do not eliminate your right to collect compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Don’t let insurance companies tell you otherwise!