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The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule & Minor Injury Cases


When an accident happens, it is a common-law legal maxim that the defendant must ‘take their plaintiff as they find them.’ What this means is that different individuals may suffer differing degrees of harm during the same accident, and even if the degree of injury is much more severe than the average person might normally sustain, the defendant will still be on the proverbial hook if they are found to have been negligent, even if the injuries sustained would normally be minor. Contacting an attorney well versed in these types of cases can help to clarify matters.

Negligence and Foreseeability

Negligence is a legal concept that holds that if someone owes a duty to another person to exercise reasonable care, and they fail to do that, they can be held liable for (almost) any injuries that result. The ‘almost’ is a necessary caveat, because injuries that are not foreseeable are usually non-compensable. In other words, if someone is injured because of another person’s negligence, but their injuries were not foreseeable, the negligent person may not be required to pay economic damages because no reasonable person could have seen such an injury coming.

The ‘eggshell plaintiff’ or ‘eggshell skull’ rule is an exception to this rule, based on what lawyers refer to as common law (that is, law that is not created by an act of the legislature). The eggshell plaintiff rule states that a medically fragile plaintiff is entitled to recover for all the injuries they sustain (though not for preexisting conditions), regardless of foreseeability. If a medically fragile person is involved in an accident, and they sustain injuries that are more severe than another person might normally incur, those injuries are compensable,

Balancing Interests

At first glance, the eggshell plaintiff rule may seem unfair to defendants, because in standard law, it is logical and equitable to decree that unforeseeable injuries should not be compensable – no reasonable defendant could have taken the right action to avoid injuries they could not see coming. However, Florida’s courts have consistently balanced the defendant’s interests with the injured plaintiff’s interest in being made whole from their injuries. A person with a previous medical condition cannot recover for their preexisting condition, but their interest in being ‘made whole’ from any new injuries is generally held to trump foreseeability considerations.

If you have been injured and have a disability or medical condition, what all this means for you is that you have the right to seek compensation for all your injuries that may have stemmed from your accident, even if those injuries are more severe than the average person’s might have been. For example, if you have osteogenesis imperfecta (“brittle bone disease”), and you are involved in an auto accident, you may break many more bones than someone would if they did not have the condition – and all of those breaks are compensable injuries for your insurer or as damages you may claim in a lawsuit.

Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Attorney

No one enjoys being involved in an accident, especially if the accident is caused by the negligence of another person. However, if you are disabled or otherwise medically fragile, you may sustain serious injury in a situation where others would get off more lightly. You have the right to seek compensation for the other person’s negligence, and calling a Tampa personal injury attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help to answer any questions you might have about your case. Contact us today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.



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