- The Gerring Law Firm
What is the egg-shell plaintiff rule?
Insurance companies often try to mitigate their financial liability for accidents by saying that the plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing. Unfortunately for them, injuries do not have to originate from the car accident for the responsible driver or their insurance company to be held liable.
The eggshell plaintiff rule states that a Defendant takes a Plaintiff as they find them. The Defendant is responsible for all resulting injuries flowing from the Defendant’s negligent conduct. It does not matter if the injured party has a compromised immune system, is in failing health, or has a skill as thin as an eggshell, the Defendant must pay for the full extent of the Plaintiff’s injuries. The Defendant cannot use the defense that the Plaintiff was injury prone or more likely to break bones than your average individual. What is an average individual anyway?
Defense attorneys often attack personal injury claims on one of two points. They will either dispute who caused the accident or, if that is too obvious to fight, will dispute the amount/reasonableness of treatment or the severity of injury incurred by the Plaintiff.
A negligent actor can be liable for any condition that they cause, as well as any aggravation of that condition by a second and later negligent actor. The second negligent actor does not need to cause a condition – the Plaintiff just needs to show that the Defendant aggravated or accelerated any condition that pre-existed. “Missouri follows the general rule that a person injured due to negligence of another is entitled to recover all damages proximately traceable to the original negligence, including subsequent aggravation which the law regards as a natural result of the original injury, even though some intervening agency may have contributed to the result.” Shannon vs. Wal-Mart Stores, 974 S.W. 2d 588 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998).
It may be possible that you had a bad back before a car accident. This may have been caused by a car accident that occurred two years before the second accident. The party that causes the first accident remains liable not only for the initial injury, but also for the eventual condition that resulted when the injury was aggravated by the second negligent actor. The second negligent actor does not need to have been the cause of an injury. They remain negligent for the condition that resulted when the initial injury was made worse by the second accident.