When it comes to evaluating a client’s injury for possible settlement, there are many factors to take into consideration. It is often the position of defense counsel and/or insurance carriers that pre-existing conditions do not substantially increase the value of a claimant’s general damages. There is also the possibility that any claim for damages will be “devalued” by opposing counsel based upon the age of the claimant. So what factors should the knowledgeable litigator take into consideration when a client presents with an injury of mild to moderate severity in addition to a pre-existing condition?
Despite arguments to the contrary, there is substantial medical evidence to prove that pre-existing medical conditions and age have a negative effect on mortality after injury . This is expecially so in cases where the pre-existing condition is combined with low to moderate severity injuries. Medical studies have also shown that there is an increase in mortality with increasing age at all levels of injury severity.
In view of the supporting scientific data, the value of a client’s claim for injury INCREASES in value where a pre-existing condition is a factor. Older clients with pre-existing conditions stand to suffer greater discomfort, wil take longer to heal and will often face greater residual effects from a new injury. The stress and emotional disturbance which is normally associated with an injury is often much greater when a client is already dealing with a pre-existing medical condition.