Florida Personal Injury Victims Must Disclose Prior Accidents

Florida personal injury attorney Joseph Lipsky wants to make sure all seriously injured victims of all types of accidents, including car accidents and slip and falls accidents, understand the importance of telling their attorneys and treating doctors about any prior injuries and accidents they’ve had. With the technological advances in “cloud” based computing and analytics, personal injury victims need to understand the ease at which all insurance companies can access their past accident and injury information. Failure to disclose prior accidents and injuries often times may result in a judge dismissing a personal injury case for what they believe is “fraud upon the court.”

One of the first things insurance companies and their attorneys do when an accident victim files a claim for personal injuries is investigate that person’s past for any other accidents and/or injuries. Thereafter, when an injured accident victim fails to disclose any such prior injuries and accidents, especially in a deposition or in answers to interrogatories, the insurance company’s attorney will seek to present evidence to the presiding judge about those prior accident and injuries, for purposes of having the judge will dismiss the case.

Recently the Third District Court of Appeals, which presides over Miami-Dade and Monroe County, took such action when it dismissed a personal injury case against Home Depot. In that case, the injured plaintiff did not disclose a prior accident in which she received medical care.  The plaintiff also failed to disclose a prior hospital visit in which she complained of pain in her back, which was one of the injuries she was suing Home Depot for causing.  Once Home Depot presented evidence to the trial judge that the accident victim provided false and misleading deposition testimony, in not revealing the prior accident and medical care, the judge dismissed the personal injury case.

In addition to disclosing prior accidents and injuries to their own attorney, it is now equally important for accident victims to let the doctors who are treating them for accident related injuries know about those “priors.” If the so-called treating doctors are not aware of prior accidents or injuries, they will have a difficult time later testify that the current accident was the cause of the injuries which are part of the personal injury claim. Many accident victims mistakenly believe that telling a doctor about a prior accident or injury will lessen the value of their current case; in fact, the opposite is actually true. When a treating doctor knows about a prior accident or injury they are able to make a proper differential diagnosis about a current injury; meaning, they are able to knowingly rule out prior accidents or injuries as a cause of current complaints.  When current treating doctors are not told about a prior accident or injury and are later questioned about them in a deposition, that doctor will be placed in a difficult position of trying to explain how an accident or injury they did not know about, does not play a role in the patient’s current complaints.  This means, both the accident victim and the treating doctor’s credibility will be brought into question.

Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Joseph Lipsky hopes those unfortunately injured in accidents remember the importance of disclosure. As the old saying goes, “tell me now or else I’m going to find out about it anyway.”

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