Humans bodies are fragile, but “eggshell plaintiffs” are especially so. In an accident, a person with a pre-existing medical condition or a some characteristic that makes them less resilient than a typical person can suffer outsized harm and monetary damages. As a result, the legal system recognizes these differences and holds defendants responsible for any additional damages that plaintiffs suffer because of them under the “eggshell skull” rule.
At John Foy & Associates, we believe that terms like these can come across as demeaning to an injured person, and we prefer not to use them. However, it is important to learn what they can mean for your case. You may be entitled to a greater award because of them – or could owe more in damages to a potential victim.
What is an Eggshell Plaintiff?
The term Eggshell Plaintiff means that the plaintiff has additional conditions or health problems that make the damages in a particular case even more severe for them. It’s used to stand for the fact that the defendant has to account for any damages caused by the accident, not just damages that a “normal” person would suffer.
The term “eggshell plaintiff” has something of a brutal history and originally refers to a comparison between a normal skull and an eggshell. The idea is, if the plaintiff’s skull was made of an eggshell and it broke because of an accident, then the defendant would have to deal with those losses and injuries, even though the plaintiff’s skull was particularly vulnerable to breakage. For this reason, this rule is sometimes referred to as the “eggshell skull” rule as well.
How is the Eggshell Skull Rule Applied?
Defendants are required to “take plaintiffs as they are.” That means that they have to deal with actual damages in a case, not just what should have happened.
Imagine you have a bone condition that makes your bones weaker than the average person. You’re involved in a relatively minor rear-end collision that leads to a broken leg. The defendant must pay for the costs to heal your leg and cannot argue that the bone condition caused the break.
Pre-Existing Conditions and the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule
The eggshell skull rule also covers pre-existing conditions, not just whether a plaintiff is more likely to be injured.
Imagine that you had neck surgery a week ago, but you get into a car accident today. The collision negatively affects the surgery that you just had. If the defendant is found at fault, they will have to pay for the additional damages caused by the accident. They are responsible for putting you back in the condition that you were before the crash happened.
Proving Additional Damages After an Accident
Paying for just the additional damages caused by an accident is tricky. You may need the help of an expert (such as an experienced doctor). In Georgia, experts are allowed to testify in certain ways, such as to explain what type of medical care or treatment you would have needed for your pre-existing condition both before and after the accident occurred. The question is: How much worse did the accident make your condition? That difference is what the defendant is responsible for.
An insurance company will try to minimize the additional damages as much as possible by arguing that you would have had to have certain types of medical care regardless of the accident. While that may be true, showing the additional damage will be a very important part of your case.
In an Accident? Have a Pre-Existing Condition? Get Your Full Award With Us.
John Foy & Associates can connect you with the experts you need to prove your case. We can also help you gather and present evidence in the best light possible to show just how much your accident changed your life, despite any pre-existing conditions.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your pre-existing condition limits your rights to start a legal claim. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form and get your FREE consultation today.