What is an “Eggshell Plaintiff”?

Broken egg shell

Sometimes in personal injury cases, it’s a toss-up as to who has the worse luck: the injured victim who had a pre-existing condition and was injured in a new accident, or the guy who hit him.


Because of the legal concept referred to as the “eggshell” or “thin-skulled” plaintiff.

What is the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule?

In personal injury cases, accident victims are not entitled to compensation for any previous conditions or injuries they might have had unless they can prove that their condition was worsened as a result of the (new) accident. This could be for physical and mental injuries or a combination of the two.

When a negligent driver hits someone who has pre-existing injuries or medical conditions (like high blood pressure, a heart condition, clinical depression, asthma, type-2 diabetes, or others) the at-fault driver frequently objects to paying for extra medical bills arising from the pre-existing conditions. The argument goes that he should only be held responsible only for the damage he caused—not for medical problems the plaintiff already had.

That’s the argument.

But it’s not always a winner.

When a plaintiff can show that his pre-existing condition was made worse because of the defendant’s negligence, the law invokes a rule referred to as the “eggshell plaintiff.” This rule says that the defendant must “take his plaintiff as he finds him.” In other words, the defendant in a personal injury case is responsible for the full extent of the injuries he causes, regardless of how fragile (“eggshell”) the victim was when the accident occurred. It doesn’t matter whether the average person would not have suffered the same extent of damage from the accident. The law takes the position that if the defendant caused the plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions to become worse, as a result of his negligent driving, then the driver – and their insurance company –must pay for it.

This rule puts the plaintiff who has pre-existing medical conditions or other injuries on a level playing field with plaintiffs who don’t have pre-existing injuries.

While being in an accident is never a good thing, at least those with pre-existing conditions can be treated fairly when it comes to being fully compensated for their damages.

Need to Sue?

If you or someone you know was injured in an accident, call the Day Law Group ToDayWe are experienced, personal injury attorneys. We offer FREE consultations.  Our offices are in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 465-1232 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or email us.

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