If you have a preexisting condition that makes you more susceptible to injury than the average person, you are still entitled to be fully compensated for injuries despite that you would not have been so severely injured was it not for your preexisting condition. In the world of personal injury law, this is referred to as the “Eggshell” Plaintiff or Eggshell Skull rule. A Plaintiff means that you are suing somebody; you have a claim for damages. The Eggshell Plaintiff rule says that you take your victim as you find him or her. This means that if you have a hypersensitivity or predisposition to injury due to a preexisting condition that causes you to become more fragile than the average person (you are like an eggshell and break or fracture easily), the person who injured you is liable for all of your injuries.
Let’s say, for example, that a 70 year old lady who has preexisting arthritis in her neck and back is stopped at a stop light and is suddenly rear-ended by a careless, negligent driver who bumps into her at a mere 10 miles per hour and causes very minor damage to her vehicle, barely putting a dent in her bumper. An insurance adjuster may claim that the 70 year old victim could not have been seriously injured from the 10 mile an hour impact that barely dented her bumper and refuse to fully compensate her for her injuries. Most people would agree that the average person would not be severely injured from such an impact. However, in this example, the 70 year old accident victim falls within the Eggshell Plaintiff rule. She had existing arthritis in her neck and back that made her more prone to injury and she may experience severe neck and back pain from the 10 mile per hour impact and require several months of physical therapy, or even surgery, in order to fully recovery. The 70 year Eggshell Plaintiff accident victim is entitled to fully recover all of her medical bills as well as full compensation for her pain and suffering just as if she had been rear ended by a driver that was going 80 miles per hour and completely totaled her car.
The Eggshell Plaintiff doctrine represents a policy of the law to hold negligent persons fully accountable for their actions. It would not be fair to hold that an injured accident victim should not be fully compensated for an injury because they were hypersensitive or predisposed to severe injury. The person may have been exercising the greatest caution to protect himself or herself from injury, yet they were injured by the carelessness or negligence of someone else. The law deems if fair and just to allow the injured victim to fully recover for all of their injuries despite their preexisting condition and predisposition to being severely injured.
Car accident victims who fit the description of an Eggshell Plaintiff need aggressive representation by a dedicated car accident lawyer and should not expect their matter to be resolved in the same manner or time frame as a typical car accident case. Instead, they should be prepared to deal with auto accident insurance adjusters whose response often is a flat out refusal to fully compensate them for all of their medical bills and pain and suffering. They should expect and plan in advance to have their attorney file a lawsuit against the negligent driver and their automobile insurance company and litigate the Eggshell issue at a full blown trial before a jury. Their attorney will also need to make sure that the judge hearing the case properly instructs the jury that under the Eggshell Plaintiff rule the jury is required to award you full monetary compensation for all of your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and all other injuries resulting from the accident.