Disclosing Pre-Existing Conditions and Injuries in a Personal Injury Case

In New Mexico, if you suffer an injury in an accident that is due to someone else‘s negligence, you can recover damages for your injuries from the defendant or the defendant‘s insurance company.

A plaintiff can recover damages to reimburse the plaintiff for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages associated with the injuries. However, if you have a pre-existing condition or injury that becomes aggravated or worsens because of the accident, you must admit the pre-existing condition and injury to the defendant.

Failure to admit a pre-existing condition or injury can seriously harm the person‘s personal injury claims. In some cases, failure to admit through active concealment can result in sanctions, attorney fees and costs and even dismissal of the lawsuit.

A pre-existing condition is a condition that the plaintiff had prior to the accident like a back or neck injury. An experienced personal injury lawyer would far prefer dealing with these injuries upfront than learning of them later through the personal injury discovery process. In fact, the preexisting injuries do not necessarily harm a personal injury claim. However, deceit and concealment of those same injuries always will when discovered by the opposing insurance company. And it is safe to assume that they will be discovered so it is best to address them early and candidly.

The opposing insurance company will always conduct its own discovery on the personal injury claims. The depth and scope of the discovery will depend on the size of the claim. However, even in minor claims, the insurance company will request medical records. In fact, those related to the accident must be provided by your personal injury attorney along with the demand. The insurance company may very well request more than what is provided. Quite often, the insurance company will request the last 10 years of medical records and these must generally be provided.

The collection of medical records can proceed in one of two ways. The plaintiff gathers and provides them. Or the insurance company simply obtains names and addresses for all medical providers along with HIPPA releases and obtains them directly. In fact, even when the plaintiff does provide them during the settlement process, the insurance company may elect to get the records directly anyway.

As noted, the existence of preexisting injuries or conditions does not necessarily you‘re your claim. In fact, New Mexico like most states follow the “eggshell plaintiff” doctrine which means that the defendant takes the plaintiff with all his or her frailty, susceptibility to injuries, preexisting conditions, and prior injuries. In short, the defendant will be responsible for the aggravation of or reoccurrence of prior conditions or injuries.

The point is to discuss the matter with your attorney immediately. If you have doubts whether the issues are relevant, err on the side of disclosure. Concealment, even arguably innocent concealment, will do nothing to advance your claims.


Related Reading:

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

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