In personal injury cases, there are times where an injured party had a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by the accident in question. As a result, the plaintiff’s injuries are more severe than they would have normally been had the plaintiff not had the pre-existing condition. Suppose a woman is rear-ended in a car accident at 45 mph.
One week before the crash, she had neck surgery. Now, the rear-end collision completely undid her neck surgery and not only that, it made her neck in worse condition than it was prior to the surgery. Understandably, she would suffer significantly more damages than a person who had a perfectly healthy neck prior to the crash.
So, does this mean that the at-fault party is responsible for all of her additional damages? Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine (or eggshell skull rule), yes, the at-fault party would be responsible for her additional damages, even though they were made worse by her prior medical condition and surgery.
Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, an at-fault party must take the victim as they find them. An injured party’s damages are not reduced because he or she is more susceptible to an injury than most people. Essentially, the eggshell plaintiff rule holds the defendant financially responsible for all damages that his or her negligence caused, regardless of the plaintiff’s frail or delicate condition or preexisting injuries.
About Pre-Existing Injuries
Even though the eggshell plaintiff rule is well-understood in Georgia and throughout the nation, that doesn’t stop insurance companies from trying to claim that a plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the accident – this is a dirty trick played by insurance companies.
If you had a pre-existing injury, don’t let that stop you from filing a personal injury claim. Even if your pre-existing injuries made the claim more expensive, you still have every right to file a claim against the at-fault party. All law students learn about the eggshell plaintiff rule and how a victim with pre-existing injuries is entitled to damages, even if they were in a minor fender-bender. However, not all plaintiffs know that their pre-existing injuries cannot be used to reduce their claim.
If you were injured in an accident and you would be deemed an eggshell plaintiff, don’t let that stop you from filing a claim for compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Smyrna personal injury lawyer.