The Role of Thin Skull Rules in Personal Injury Claims
In personal injury law, there is a concept known as the “eggshell plaintiff” law or “thin skull” rule. This law, or rule, assumes that a preexisting condition or injury renders a plaintiff more vulnerable than others, and thus, can suffer increased damages because of their condition. It also assumes that a victim of negligence should be compensated for their losses, even if that loss is the result of the predisposed condition and wasn’t foreseeable by the defendant. If you’re looking for a Bradenton, FL, personal injury attorney, understanding the “thin skull” concept is important because it may frame how you go about your case based on the advice you are given.
The premise of thin skull is that the defendant “takes their victim as they find them.” That, by its very nature, rules out the exclusion of accountability based on a preexisting condition. For example, if a plaintiff has a medical condition that renders their skull more susceptible to breaking upon impact, and a defendant was to hit them in the head, the defendant is responsible for the damages that striking the plaintiff in the head caused— even if they didn’t know about the preexisting condition.
At the same time, negligence on the part of the plaintiff doesn’t count as it pertains to this doctrine. So, if a motorcycle accident lawyer, for example, argued that because the plaintiff wasn’t wearing a helmet when the accident injuries occurred, the thin skull concept applied, they wouldn’t be successful.
The average person is able to withstand a few bumps and bruises with no long-term effect or extensive damage. Not all people are like that, however. Some people might be more susceptible to harm or injury naturally—they are small in stature, for example—or because of a condition they suffer from that is either natural or caused by a prior injury. Under this assumption, their condition doesn’t create culpability for being in a situation that might cause injury, nor does it mitigate any responsibility the defendant bears for their recklessness or negligence.
Whether the defendant knows about the prior condition or not doesn’t matter. They don’t have to show a higher degree of caution or care for a plaintiff who falls under the “eggshell” classification. They must have violated only an average standard of care to be found responsible for damages.
It’s assumed that a defendant will be responsible for harm or injury resulting from their negligence or recklessness. It is further assumed that the defendant will be responsible for harm or injury that aggravated a preexisting injury or condition. If a plaintiff is involved in an accident and had a preexisting condition, the defendant is accountable for injuries that were the result of the accident, but not for injuries suffered because of a preexisting condition. This can be confusing, particularly if the plaintiff was still recovering from an injury or condition when the negligence or recklessness of the defendant injured them further.
The thin skull rule or law doesn’t apply to every case. Your personal injury attorney can help you determine if it applies to your case. To hire the best personal injury lawyer in Bradenton, FL, contact the experts at Erjavec Injury Law.