What Is the Eggshell Skull Rule and How Does It Protect Vulnerable People?

Some of us have physical conditions that make us more susceptible to serious injury. For example, someone with brittle bone syndrome might suffer broken bones and serious pain due to an accident, while others might walk away unscathed.

The person at fault for a motor vehicle accident might argue they shouldn’t be responsible for injuries suffered by someone with a preexisting condition. Yet, our vulnerable population is protected from arguments like this by a legal doctrine known as the “eggshell skull rule.” 

The Eggshell Skull Rule Explained

The eggshell skull rule, sometimes called the thin skull rule, says that a negligent person is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries even if those injuries are uncommon and are more serious due to a condition that makes the plaintiff more fragile than most people. 

It’s just the negligent person’s bad luck that they got into a wreck with a vulnerable victim, and the law will require the negligent person to fully compensate the victim.

To put it a different way, the law will not punish a vulnerable victim by allowing the negligent party to avoid paying anything other than full compensation. The fact that a healthier person may have suffered less serious injury doesn’t matter.

Suppose you have spinal stenosis, a condition that causes your spine to narrow. It makes you more susceptible to paralysis if you suffer whiplash or impacts on your body. You’re driving your car, and someone rear-ends you at low speed. 

The impact jars your neck and back, and you end up partially paralyzed. Even though your preexisting condition contributed to the severity of your injury, the at-fault driver is still liable for your damages. The at-fault driver can’t make hypothetical arguments about what would have happened if you didn’t have spinal stenosis.

Medical Evidence Is Key

It’s not always easy to prove that an auto accident worsened your preexisting medical condition. Your personal injury lawyer will need to collect your medical history, hire medical experts to testify about your condition, and educate the jury about how the accident caused your condition to worsen. 

The eggshell skull rule applies mostly to physical injuries. If you have depression, anxiety or another preexisting emotional condition, and it worsens because of the accident, it will be difficult to apply the eggshell skull rule. Physical injuries are easier for juries to understand and quantify. In contrast, it’s tough to explain how an accident worsened your emotional condition, even though it may have done so.

Contact Our Texas Personal Injury Lawyers If You Need Legal Help

If you had a preexisting condition and were injured in a truck wreck, car accident or any other crash in Texas, the Dallas attorneys of Ted B. Lyon & Associates are here to help. To get a free, no-obligation evaluation of your potential claim, please call us at 866-503-4864 or send us a message.

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