Tacoma, WA asked in Civil Litigation, Insurance Defense and Personal Injury for Washington

Q: How often does a previous injury affect an auto-injury case? Without offering information about a previous injury.

I have a 5-year-old medical bill in collections from a previous injury that is in close proximation [on my body] (but not exact) to this auto injury I just had. Will this show up somehow and affect a possible case? It was in another state that I don't have a policy in or residency in.

1 Lawyer Answer

A: Good question. Your issue is a common one in most personal injury cases. A reputable injury attorney knows how to deal with this.

You are only entitled to make a claim for the injury that was "caused" by the wreck in question. Whether that means a completely new injury or aggravation of a pre-existing injury may be debated in your case. In all likelihood the insurer will be able to discover exactly what your prior records say (regardless of the state where you sought treatment for that injury) and have a physician or physicians consider how those injuries relate to your new injuries. If the evidence is clearly in your favor, sometimes the defense won't dispute your position about what injuries this wreck caused. Other times the defense takes an unreasonable position and hires unscrupulous experts to provide bogus opinions to try to hurt your case.

You will be able to either have your physicians explain the difference between the new injury and the old, or hire experts to do that for you. You can also testify about the differences and/or have family and friends testify what they've observed. But a reputable injury attorney should be able to help you determine how to approach this in your case.

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