What is The Eggshell Skull Rule?

There are times when individuals have some type of pre-existing condition that could be made worse as a result of the careless or negligent actions of someone else. This could play a role in an injury claim, but shouldn’t affect a person’s ability to recover compensation.

For example, just because a person has an ongoing health issue or a previously healed injury, the law finds that they should not be adversely affected because of the actions of others, even if they are more susceptible to sustaining an injury than the average person. Here, we want to discuss the legal doctrine known as the Eggshell Skull Rule that seeks to protect injury victims who have pre-existing conditions as they work to recover compensation for their losses.

Where Does the Eggshell Skull Rule Come From?

When we examine information from the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, we can see that this is a common law doctrine that holds a defendant responsible for a victim’s unforeseeable or uncommon reactions to the negligent actions of the defendant.

We understand that the actual definition, even paraphrased, is a little bit confusing. In layman’s terms, the Eggshell Skull Rule states that any pre-existing conditions the injury victim has should not prevent them from recovering financial compensation due to the negligent actions of another party, even if the injury may not have occurred had the pre-existing condition not existed.

How Does This Apply to an Injury Case?

For example, let us suppose that an individual already has a pre-existing back condition, perhaps a slipped disc or spinal stenosis. Now let us assume that this individual is rear-ended by another driver and that this incident significantly exasperates the pre-existing back injury. In this scenario, it is unlikely that the injury would have been very severe had it not been for the pre-existing condition, but nonetheless, the victim has expenses that would not have otherwise occurred had it not been for the negligence of the at-fault driver.

When an injury occurs, it is not uncommon for insurance carriers or the at-fault party to point to pre-existing conditions the victim may have to claim that the incident did not actually cause the injury or that the pain and suffering would never have occurred had it not been for the pre-existing condition. This is the type of defense to get out of having to pay compensation.

However, under the Eggshell Skull Doctrine, the person who caused the incident will be financially responsible even if the average injury victim would not have suffered the same type of injury as the person with a pre-existing condition.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the negligent actions of another individual, but think you may run into issues because of a pre-existing condition, you need to reach out to an attorney immediately. The existence of a pre-existing condition should have no bearing on whether or not a person recovers compensation for an incident caused by the fault of another.

When you work with a Seattle personal injury lawyer, you will have an attorney who can use their resources to fully investigate the incident and handle all communication with other parties. They will get out in front of the pre-existing injury and make sure that the existence of such has no bearing on an injury settlement or jury verdict.