If you suffer from a medical condition that makes you more susceptible to injury, you may wonder what happens if you are in a motor vehicle accident and, because of that condition, you suffer injuries greater than would the average Joe. The person that hit you might argue that he shouldn’t have to pay for your additional or exacerbated injuries because they are over and beyond what a person without your condition would suffer. That is not the case, however. In Florida, negligent drivers who cause injury to other drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians using the roadways must take that injured person as they find them, even if they are more fragile than others. This is known as Florida’s Eggshell Plaintiff Rule.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule is taught to law students and envisions a person with a thin skull. This is why it is also known as the “thin skull” or “eggshell skull” rule. This Rule exists in the context of an automobile accident to hold negligent drivers liable for unseen or uncommon reactions by the person or persons injured by their negligent act. By way of example, imagine a mother driving her young son to school; none of the other drivers on the road are aware, but the mother suffers from a rare disorder called Osteogenesis
Imperfecta which causes her bones to become very brittle and easily broken. As the mother and son are approaching the drop-off circle, the man in the car behind them taps their bumper and causes the mother to strike her arm against the steering wheel, breaking it. The young son, who does not suffer from the same disorder, is unharmed. In this scenario, the negligent driver would be responsible for the mother’s broken arm, even though the average person would probably not have been injured or would have been much less injured in the same scenario.
The “thin skull” rule, despite its name, does not only apply to people with bone disorders. It could also apply in a situation where a motor vehicle accident causes a person with a weak heart to suffer a heart attack as a result of the crash. Or even where a negligent driver causes a person with a weakened immune system to develop an infection due to his or her injuries in the crash.
Another example of where the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule would come into play would be if you suffered a pre-existing injury and are later reinjured in that same area of the body, thereby exacerbating or aggravating that injury. Say you were in a car accident in 2002, and you had surgery on your lower back. Fast forward to 2016, and you are in another accident. The pain in your low back, which has been gone for years, suddenly reappears with a vengeance. Technically, under the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, the negligent driver would be responsible for your injuries caused by the crash; however, this can get a little tricky when it comes to your damages, as the insurance company will almost always argue that the injury was caused by the first accident; not the second. This is why it is extremely important to hire an attorney with experience in cases involving pre-existing injuries and medical conditions to assist you in navigating your personal injury claim. Call the attorneys at Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A. We are here to listen to your story. As always, there are no upfront fees or costs.
For more information, or if you or a loved one have been wrongfully hurt, contact Dennis Hernandez & Associates, PA at (855)LAW-DENNIS, or online at www.denisherhandez.com .