Florida car accidents not only cause new injuries for those involved in the accident, but aggravate pre-existing medical conditions as well. Regardless of whether the injuries were old or new, all must be tied to the accident in order to recover damages. A recent appeal examines the presence of pre-existing conditions in a rear-end collision between a bus and another vehicle that pulled out in front of it. The case went to trial with a $1.5 million verdict in favor of the injured passenger. The defendant appealed, arguing the instructions referring to pre-existing conditions were faulty.
The plaintiff in the suit fell from his seat as a result of the impact and was taken to the hospital immediately after the accident for treatment. The injured was treated and released the same day, but continued to seek treatment for lower back pain and stiffness. X-rays revealed arthritis and a degenerative disc condition in his back. A later MRI showed he had a three-level disc herniation in his lower back and that he suffered from diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH). He filed suit against the defendant driver, alleging she caused the disc herniation in his lower back.
The defendant admitted she was negligent, but denied she caused the disc-herniation and requested amount of damages. The defendant asserted the bus passenger’s complaints of pain stemmed from his preexisting conditions. To counter, the injured offered the testimony of a medical doctor who stated there was a reasonable degree of medical certainty the herniation was caused by the accident. The doctor came to this conclusion after a review of his own records of examination, the MRI, and his patient’s own statements that he did not have any back problems before the collision. The physician testified there was no way to tell from an MRI if the herniation occurred before, during, or after the accident. The doctor did note the injured suffered from DISH and that the injured had been dealing with DISH for a long time, which causes pain, spasms, stiffness, and other complications. The plaintiff’s expert testified the DISH was located above the herniated discs and were unrelated to one another.