Eggshell Plaintiff

In the world of personal injury law, there’s a phrase called “eggshell plaintiff”.  What exactly does this mean?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  In many personal injury cases, the injured party had a pre-existing condition, which the collision exacerbated, making the injuries even more severe than they would have been.

Let me give you an example: let’s say that in the cold weather, an older woman slipped on black ice on your property.  But just a week before this fall, she had a hip surgery, and this simple fall, which would have otherwise been relatively harmless, left her hip in a worse condition than before.  This means she would suffer significantly worse injuries than somebody who hadn’t just had hip surgery.

Such a phenomenon happens more frequently than you’d imagine in personal injury cases, which is where the “eggshell plaintiff doctrine” comes from.  The eggshell plaintiff or eggshell-skull rule is the principle that a defendant is liable for a plaintiff’s unforeseeable and uncommon reactions to the defendant’s negligent or intentional act. In other words, an at-fault party is required to take the victim as he or she found them, and that includes any preexisting conditions. The injured plaintiff’s compensation isn’t going to be reduced simply because they were more susceptible to more extensive injuries.  This essentially means that the defendant is financially responsible for all damages caused by their negligence, even if the victim is more susceptible to injury than average.

The eggshell plaintiff rule is one that’s well understood throughout the country, but that doesn’t stop insurance companies from trying to claim that a plaintiff’s injuries weren’t caused by the accident because they were pre-existing.  Even if you do have a pre-existing injury, you’re still entitled to file a personal injury claim (while law students all know about the eggshell plaintiff rule and how a victim with pre-existing injuries is entitled to damages, not all plaintiffs know that their pre-existing injuries can’t be used to reduce their claim).

If your pre-existing condition was exacerbated by a recent accident, then feel free to contact Franklin D. Azar & Associates.  We’ll be more than happy to help you file a personal injury claim and provide you with the legal counsel you deserve!