The Grey Hair defense: We can’t all be as strong (or young) as Arnold Schwarznegger.
We all change as we get older. Wear and tear starts showing and it affects everyone. This is a natural part of the aging process. Our skin gets wrinkled. Muscles get weaker, feet get flatter, we gain weight and our vision gets weaker. We start wearing glasses and go on diets. We get cataracts. Our hearing isn’t as good. Our hair starts thinning out, starts turning grey, and we are not as flexible.
The insides of our bodies change too. Our bones get weaker and lose calcium, and become brittle. This is known as osteoporosis. We get cavities in our teeth and they often need to be replaced or pulled to make room for false teeth. Our spine changes too: gradually around the age of 35 our backbone (spine and the discs in our back) and neck start changing. Bone doctors call this process “degenerative disc disease.” The tendons and ligaments aren’t as flexible. Other advanced changes in the spine include herniated discs, also known as “slipped” discs. We undergo these changes and do not notice because they’re not painful; although we look in the mirror and can see them. We look at our parents and still love them even though they are older looking, and we know we are aging, just like Bonnie Raitt sings in “Nick of Time.” When we bend over we know we are not as flexible. We do not run as fast or hit the golf ball as far as we could when we were “in our prime.” We are not “Like a Rock” anymore.
As our body ages, its ability to bounce back after an injury also tends to diminish. Professional athletes from all sports – football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer – train hard to keep in shape. Even so, their fitness gets gradually worse, and they often play with injuries.
People at any age may get injured due to irresponsible behavior – sometimes their own, sometimes someone else’s. When that happens to a middle aged or older person, the official court room defense is that the injured person had a “pre-existing condition.” This defense is saying the cumulative life long effect of aging is causing the medical problems, not the accident, and “now the victim is trying to blame the defendant for them”. The defense claims the DDD is causing pain and suffering and necessitates surgery, not the trauma of an accident.
The law gives the injured victim the right to compensation if the victim’s body, at whatever age, is further weakened or injured. The jury must look at the evidence. It makes an informed decision based on medical proof, X-rays, MRIs, doctor’s opinions, and witnesses. The jury then gives its verdict, deciding if the complaints are based on medical changes or if the complaints are a regurgitation of old problems wrapped up in a lawsuit.
One of the biggest issues in these types of cases is old medical records. Too often a victim will deny old problems under oath, and then find out the defense has copies of old medical records. This is called “impeachment.” Then the jury must decide if the Victim (or his lawyer) was just forgetful or more likely a liar. Neither spot is a good place to be in front of a jury.
The moral of the story: Always tell the truth!