A teacher in her 40’s had a recent struggle with neck pain and headaches. It turns out that she had early onset of arthritis and general degeneration in that area of her neck. Then she was involved in a collision in a parking lot. It was not a major impact collision, but it was enough to change the way her neck felt. She treated with a chiropractor and approached three different local law firms in Lee County to represent her. They all turned her down because her MRI showed obvious signs of pre-existing conditions.
As part of her treatments, her chiropractor ordered EMG/NCV electrical studies to assess and document any nerve damage caused by this incident, since one of the newer symptoms was pain and tingling into her arm. Without getting into the science of electromyography, the tests were able to show true axonal regeneration and/or the reinnervation of denervated muscle fibers, thus giving us objective evidence of a recent nerve injury with an active recovery in progress. Dennis Phillips provided the MRI images and the raw data from the electrical studies to the carrier for the at-fault driver so their in-house medical experts could review them. After that review, they admitted that this was a new condition, and the case settled for $52,000.
Mr. Phillips uses the term FDIC (like you hear at the bank) when explaining exacerbations to pre-existing injuries or conditions. If the frequency, duration, intensity, or character of the pain is different following the trauma, then that is what the patient is treating for. The actual underlying condition could be a herniation, a bulge, a tear, a fracture, or a ham sandwich. It doesn’t matter what it is called because the client/patient isn’t treating for whatever the diagnosis is called. He or she is just treating because of the pain and the disruption to his or her life that was caused by someone else’s negligence. These are the prototypical “eggshell plaintiff” that you take them as you find them. It’s not their fault that they already had a medical condition when someone decided not to pay attention.