Prior history of injury in an auto accident case is not always bad for the case. I outline why you do not want to withhold information about your prior injury in a California accident.
Many clients ask why their past medical history has to be revealed for fear that it may jeopardize the reasonable settlement of their new personal injury automobile case. In fact, the opposite is true.
Credibility is the number one factor to be considered whenever you bring a personal injury claim. California jurors are skeptical about personal injury claimants that appear greedy, and want more than they deserve. Therefore, it is important to make sure that every step of your claim process shows your integrity and honesty.
A past history of injury to the same area of your body injured in your most recent accident is relevant only if it has somehow contributed to your new symptoms or new findings of injury. Thus, if you have a previous back injury that healed fully and you have been several years without any symptoms or residual injury, it is irrelevant to your case. However, relevancy is not the test of disclosure. The possibility of relevance is.
The possibility of relevance is the criteria that the court will use in ordering disclosure and you must think in those terms as well. It is not unreasonable for an insurance company to question your honesty and integrity or recall about your past history. There are plenty of unscrupulous plaintiffs who would claim they had no prior history even though they did. Therefore, it is to your advantage to disclose this information if requested about your past medical history and allow the insurance company to review the medical records “to see for themselves.” By their review of the medical records, if it supports your position that you had no subsequent symptoms after release, then it becomes irrelevant to your later prosecution of your current claim.
If you have a prior medical history that is relevant because you were having symptoms up to the time of the accident, you should review this article on benefits of disclosing a preexisting condition. Do not far your history as it may explain why your symptoms are much worse than would be expected, and may even entitle you to more money settlement.
Always be candid with your attorney about your past medical history. As a California auto accident attorney, I can advise you what to do about your past medical history, obtain the records before they are disclosed, and advise you if I foresee any problems associated with your claim. That is far better than later accusations that you lied or withheld information from the defense willfully and intentionally, leaving jurors and adjusters suspicious of your claim and unwilling to award you damages.
James Ballidis is the managing attorney of Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie in Newport Beach, California, and practices auto, truck, and motorcycle accident law. If you have any questions about your case, please feel free to call us at 1-866-981-5596.