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PA Court Forbids Use of Past Injuries as Evidence


During personal injury cases, victims are sometimes forced to hear insurance companies trot out their medical histories as though their previous injuries make them ineligible for medical support in the present. Independent Medical Exams (IMEs) are often employed by defense teams to invalidate a victim’s claims of injury—even though the doctor who conducted the IME is often on the insurance company’s payroll and not really independent.

However, a Pennsylvania judge made a decision that limited an insurance company’s ability to use a plaintiff’s medical history as evidence.

In Piczon v. Moody, Judge Nealon presided over a case where the Plaintiff was arguing for compensation for her neck and head injuries after an auto accident. The Defendant wanted the medical witness to bring up past medical records that revealed past treatment for the Plaintiff’s lower back, hip, leg, knee, foot, and ankle. Because the Plaintiff was not seeking damages for injuries that were related to her past injuries, the Judge granted the motion to preclude the medical witness from mentioning them. Specifically, he commented that testimony regarding past injuries was “irrelevant” and “prejudicial.”

This court in Lackawanna County has actually ruled on this subject before. In a prior case (Familetti v. Thyssen Krupp Elevator Corp.), the Judge again accepted a motion from the Plaintiff to keep the medical witness from referencing prior injuries. In this case, the Plaintiff was hurt in an elevator accident that allegedly injured her neck and hand.

The Defense had wanted to disclose that the Plaintiff had suffered injuries requiring treatment in two car accidents 10 and 20 years prior. The Judge again found such references prejudicial and confusing. He also noted that the IME doctor found the Plaintiff’s medical history to be “benign” and never suggested that her prior injuries were affecting her present case.

Strategic Opposition to Insurance Tactics

Decisions like these are vital for the rights of the injured. Insurance companies are not above using your past injuries to cast doubt on your present needs. No matter what they need to do to limit your compensation, they’ll do it. However, the court’s ruling mentioned above would not have been possible if the plaintiffs in each case didn’t have an attentive and tactically-skilled attorney.

It’s an attorney who can decide the course of litigation, who can level the playing field between you and large companies with seemingly limitless resources. Without a good personal injury attorney, the deck is stacked against you—and companies count on that fact when they’re settling with you or litigating against you. Don’t go it alone.

If you’re been injured in an accident of any kind, the Miami personal injury attorneys at Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. are standing by to help. Call us at (305) 770-6335 for help with your case. We offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options and move forward decisively.