When a person suffers injuries due to the negligence of another party, there's always the possibility of that person suffering increased injury due to their already being more vulnerable than others. If you were recently injured and had those injuries aggravated due to a pre-existing condition, the so-called "egg-shell plaintiff" rule may apply to your injury case.
What Is It?
In simple terms, the egg-shell plaintiff (also known as "eggshell skull") rule posits that a defendant remains liable for any and all injuries caused by his or her actions, even if the person injured has a condition that makes them more susceptible to injury than one would normally expect. If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle and has a brittle-bone condition that causes further injury, the defendant remains responsible for all of the plaintiff's injuries. Even if the defendant could not foresee or predict the outcome, he or she still remains responsible regardless.
With the egg-shell plaintiff rule, the defendant has to take the plaintiff as he or she finds that person. This means that the defendant can't argue that a person without a pre-existing condition wouldn't have been as susceptible to serious injury. After all, such an argument would effectively reduce the compensation the plaintiff is entitled to for the injuries and other damages suffered.
How Does It Affect Your Claim?
If you're suffering from a pre-existing injury or condition that would be aggravated by subsequent injuries, your chances of being fairly compensated may depend on a variety of factors. For starters, your claim may hinge on your ability to effectively prove that your current injuries were not the result of previous events.
In most cases, you'll be able to recover damages for any and all injuries caused by the defendant's current actions. However, you may not be able to recover damages just because your previous injuries were aggravated by the current accident unless said injuries were particularly severe and debilitating in nature. On the other hand, you won't be at risk of having your damages reduced due to a pre-existing injury.
What Limits May an Egg-Shell Plaintiff Face?
Although it's a given that the defendant will be held responsible for a plaintiff's injuries, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much responsibility lies with the defendant. The difficulties of determining how much influence a pre-existing injury could have on a current injury could have implications for your personal-injury claim. This could have a significant impact on the damages that can be presented to the court.
For this reason, the defendant may argue that whatever injuries were claimed to have been sustained due to the defendant's current actions were actually the result of previous actions elsewhere. Whether this particular argument is successful depends on the level of evidence brought by both sides, including medical records and testimony from physicians, experts, and even the litigants themselves.
Disclosure Is Essential
If you've suffered a serious injury prior to the current event at the center of your claim, it's always best to disclose these and other injuries to your attorney at the beginning of the case. Disclosure gives your attorney and medical experts an opportunity to examine the effects your current injuries have on your body due to pre-existing injuries and conditions. Failure to disclose this information could actually jeopardize your personal-injury claim, as said failure could damage your credibility and strengthen the defendant's arguments against you.
It doesn't pay to hide pre-existing injuries, since the defense may obtain existing medical records and other information via subpoena and unearth previous injuries and claims made earlier. This information can then be used to discredit any actual injuries you may have suffered in your most recent accident.
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13 December 2016
It can be hard to know what to do to protect yourself legally in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. You’re liable to be disoriented or in shock, you may be injured, and you’re surely worried about your passenger or the other driver. At least, that’s how I felt. The thing is, the things you say and do in the immediate aftermath of an accident may affect a legal case later. Depending on who’s at fault and what the laws are in your state, you may want to sue the other driver for damages, or you may find yourself being sued. My blog is designed to give you tips for a car accident lawsuit, no matter which side you find yourself on.