Where a subsequent injury is superimposed upon a prior injury to the same part of one's body, or upon an area for which one has received prior medical care, complicated medical questions can certainly arise. In my experience what we can take away from this scenario are the following:
- A prior injury or history of injury, or treatment for an unrelated condition, standing alone, is never a reason to deny a claim concerning a new injury to that same body part.
- It is fairly common for new injuries sustained in an accident to aggravate or exacerbate and underlying aging, degenerative, or arthritic processes, or to worsen the condition of previously injured areas.
- While a new injury might not necessarily cause new, objective medical findings in someone with an underline degenerative process, medical science recognizes that the underlying problems, particularly pain-related problems, can be made worse buy a new injury
- One guarantee is that if you are not engaged in a process of complete disclosure if asked about a prior injury or accident during litigation- it will affect, and possibly destroy- your case.
It's commonplace for an insurance company to retain an independent medical examination physician who will give an opinion that the injury victim suffers from an arthritic or degenerative process that pre-existed the date of the accident. That's frequently true for anyone with or without a history of accidents, and probably true for anyone beyond their mid-thirties. I've had hundreds of clients tell me over the years that:
“ it may be true that I had arthritis in my back but I can tell you my back never bothered me like this until after that accident”.
Maryland juries are instructed on the concepts of aggravation and exacerbation of an underlying condition. And aggravation is generally thought of as a temporary flare-up of pain discomfort in other preexisting symptoms whereas an exacerbation is generally thought of as an event that makes the underlying condition worse on a permanent basis.