An eggshell plaintiff rule, also known as the eggshell skull rule, thin-skull rule, special-sensitivity rule or old-soldier’s rule, comes to play in tort law. In legalese, tort law is a type of law that holds a person legally liable for any damages he or she has caused intentionally or negligently. Those damages may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in some cases emotional distress and punitive damages.
What if a plaintiff is more susceptible to injury than others?
These plaintiffs, called eggshell plaintiffs, are often awarded extra damages. The law says the defendant must take the victim as he finds him. This means, if the victim is more susceptible to injury than an average individual, the defendant is still liable for all the damages that occur, even if he would have paid much less if he’d injured someone else.
An eggshell plaintiff example
Let’s say you were texting while driving and bumped into the car in front of you. In most cases, the fender bender might be settled quickly and wouldn’t cost you a ton of money. Instead, you hit a person with an especially thin or eggshell skull and they banged their head on the dashboard, and suffered a severe skull fracture instead of the usual bump on the head.
The eggshell plaintiff rule essentially says that you take the victim as you find him, and it is designed to encourage care and punish negligence. In this example, the plaintiff can’t collect damages for their pre-existing condition before the accident (for having an especially thin skull) but is entitled to damages for physical or mental conditions that were made worse.
Some people think the defendant shouldn’t have to pay those extra costs, but that’s not what Florida law says. The court says since the defendant breached his duty, he is responsible for all costs that come from that breach, even if they weren’t foreseen.
Are you an eggshell plaintiff?
If you have a pre-existing condition and experienced an injury due to someone’s negligence and it worsened your condition, it’s important your case is handled correctly.
How your attorney handles your personal injury claim regarding preexisting injuries could either negatively or favorably affect your injury claims.
Your attorney should:
- Promptly and fully disclose any preexisting injuries.
- Have a medical expert compare past medical records and diagnostic tests with current ones to objectively determine how the accident worsened your preexisting condition.
- Use clinical records to compare the degree of pain, extent of necessary care, or disability before and after the accident.
- Argue those injuries weakened the preexisting condition and made you more susceptible to new injuries.
The “eggshell plaintiff” argument is particularly useful in a low-impact auto accident collision where a jury may doubt that the accident could have caused your claimed injury. The “eggshell plaintiff” theory