The fact that you have preexisting osteoarthritis does not prevent you from recovering money damages for your injuries in an auto accident. Insurance companies will typically try to make a big issue of this preexisting condition when trying to settle your accident injury claim, but the simple truth is that if the car accident activated or aggravated your osteoarthritis, then you are entitled to recover damages for your accident-related injuries. If you have been injured in an auto accident and you believe that your preexisting osteoarthritis of the spine is keeping you from getting the settlement you deserve, call us for a free consultation at 541-617-0555.
Osteoarthritis and Auto Accidents:
In the above video, Dwyer Williams Dretke PC’s lead litigation attorney Tim Williams introduces degenerative joint disease. First he shows a portion of a healthy spine, in which the vertebral bones and discs in between are healthy. There is plenty of cushion and space between each pair of vertebrae because the intervertebral discs are healthy and also because the bones themselves are undamaged: they have no lipping or spurring, but are nice and smooth.
Next, Tim shows a portion of a spine that is more worn, from later on in life. You can see that there has been a loss of disk space in between adjacent levels of bone. In fact, the intervertebral disc has actually started to change color, which signifies that it is drying out and becoming less bendable and more rigid. Furthermore, a little bit of lipping is evident on the bones themselves: the bones now extend beyond where they did early on in life.
Third, Tim shows us a model of a portion of spine from a back that is much later in life. This portion of spine represents someone in his or her seventies. Quite a bit of lipping is evident, which means that the bone is growing outward in what is known as a bone spur. We see that the disk is very dry and rigid, which allows the vertebra on either side of it to come into contact. There is lipping on the bottom, too, which creates some pinching and rubbing of the bones. The bones can easily fracture should there be any sort of inciting event such as an auto accident.
While many of us will experience spinal degeneration as we grow older, most of us won’t ever know that it is occurring because we won’t have symptoms of the degeneration. So, while we may have some loss of disk space height and may have some bone spurring, most of us will never have symptoms of osteoarthritis and we will never know that it is occurring. However, if there is an inciting event such as a traumatic auto accident in which some stresses are put on that level of the spine, symptoms can occur.
Unfortunately, insurance companies almost invariably take the stance that underlying degenerative changes cause the symptoms that many accident victims attribute to accidents. If that causation were true, then insurance companies wouldn’t be responsible for paying for plaintiffs’ post-accident cost of care. But this is not the case with preexisting injuries: Oregon law protects all accident victims whose lives have been affected by auto and other serious accident trauma, regardless of whether or not they have preexisting conditions.
If you found this video helpful and informative, please view our other accident injury videos: