If you've been injured while riding as a passenger in an Uber® or Lyft® vehicle (whether in a vehicle accident or in some other incident), it's fair to wonder what kind of obstacles might arise if you decide to file a legal claim for your injuries and other losses. That includes the prospect that some preexisting condition (whether one you actually have, or one the other side claims you have) might affect your case.
So, what happens when the harm you're claiming from a rideshare passenger injury aggravates a condition you have (or might have), or is difficult to distinguish from that condition? What if there's a plausible but altogether different medical explanation for the physical or emotional injuries you're claiming? It can certainly complicate things, but it won't necessarily prevent you from receiving fair compensation for the negligent or intentional conduct of the rideshare driver or some other third party.
Whether you've actually suffered or received a diagnosis related to any of these injuries or conditions, or have any reason to believe that they might be relevant to your case, don't be surprised to hear the other side argue that one or more of the following conditions or health problems are actually to blame (in whole or in part) for the injuries you're now claiming:
When you file any kind of personal injury lawsuit, it's a well-established rule that any compensation you receive ("damages" in legalese) will not cover health conditions that existed before you were harmed or otherwise injured by the defendant's wrongdoing. However, if the at-fault party's wrongful conduct made your preexisting condition worse, the at-fault party can be held financially liable for those effects. This rule may sound simple, but given the complexity of the human body and the difficulty inherent in proving causation in certain cases, the existence of a preexisting injury or condition can make it more difficult to determine the breadth of the defendant's liability and calculate the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries.
Causation and Preexisting Conditions
You can theoretically try to show that your preexisting injuries or other health issues were of a certain type or severity before you were injured as a rideshare passenger, and now your injuries are more acute, more intense, more debilitating, or causing you a more significant amount of discomfort. But there is a large degree of subjectivity here, and the rideshare driver (or Uber®/Lyft® or any other defendant) will almost certainly argue that you're understating the impact of your preexisting condition, or that you're exaggerating the effects of any distinct injuries or other issues that can be directly tied to the accident or other incident that occurred while you were a rideshare passenger.
Learn why it's important to get medical treatment if you're injured as a rideshare passenger.
"Damages" and Preexisting Conditions
Even if you can prove that the defendant's wrongdoing made your preexisting injuries worse, it can be a challenge to establish the precise amount of damages you should receive. The biggest difficulty comes when trying to determine your more subjective and intangible damages, such as "pain and suffering." It's hard enough to calculate these losses when there is no preexisting condition. But when the earlier condition is aggravated by or is very similar to the harm resulting from the defendant's wrongdoing, the task becomes even more challenging. And whatever calculations you come up with, you can be confident the defendant will argue that your final figure is excessive. Learn more about how much a rideshare passenger injury case might be worth.
Despite the extra complications that can arise, a preexisting injury can sometimes make getting compensation easier, in the sense that a clear picture of your condition before the defendant's wrongdoing can make it easier to identify and measure the impact of the specific harm resulting from that wrongdoing.
For example, let's say you have lower back pain from your prior job as a construction worker, and you later suffer a herniated disc in a traffic accident while riding in an Uber®/Lyft® vehicle. Because of your prior work injury and treatment, MRI images show the condition of your back just a few weeks before the accident, and there is no indication of herniation. It's now easier for you to counter the defendant's argument that your latest injuries can be linked to something other than the rideshare vehicle accident.
While a preexisting condition won't doom your case, it can complicate things considerably, which is one of many reasons why working with a lawyer can be the key to a positive outcome in your Uber®/Lyft® passenger injury case.