The second element a plaintiff must show in order to recover is what is known as “injury causation.” This is the legal term which means the plaintiff must show his or her injuries were caused by the accident.
In some cases, such as broken bones, the fact that an injury was caused by an accident is crystal clear. Other times, however, the defense will hotly contest whether plaintiff’s injuries were caused from an accident. Insurance companies often point to previous medical conditions in an effort to show that an accident did not cause the subject injury. It is important to know that you have a right to privacy when it comes to your medical records and you do not have to, nor should you, sign blanket medical releases provided by an insurance company.
In order to demonstrate how “injury causation” works, consider the following example:
Assume the plaintiff, who is 60 years old, is rear-ended at a high rate of speed. After several months of physical therapy and chiropractic care, plaintiff undergoes an MRI which shows a bulging disc in his back that will require surgery. The MRI also shows normal degenerative changes in his spine that occur in all of us over time. Assume also that the plaintiff had also seen a chiropractor three years before the accident due to a fall from a ladder but he had no symptoms in the two years before the accident.
In this typical case, the insurance company will likely argue that plaintiff’s surgery was not caused by the accident, but was rather due to the “degenerative” changes in plaintiff’s back or even possibly his prior fall. As you can imagine, there are many variations of the above scenario. When this occurs, it is important for us to become involved as quickly as possible.
Keep in mind that under Colorado law, a defendant is responsible for the harm he or she causes in aggravating a pre-existing injury. Also, it is not a defense to argue the plaintiff is particularity susceptible to a particular injury. In Colorado, like most other states, you “take you plaintiff as you find him.” Meaning, it does not matter if the plaintiff is easily injured or particularly susceptible to an injury. This is known as the “thin-skull” rule.
To learn more about the other Elements of a successful claim, follow these links:
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