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How a Prior Injury Impacts a Current Claim: Florida’s Eggshell Skull Doctrine

Many individuals suffer from an accident or incident at some point in their life, which causes injuries. Whether the injuries are a result of a car accident, slip and fall, or an illness which develops into a debilitating condition, many manage to live with these injuries and continue on with their everyday activities. A major question of liability arises when a second accident or incident happens that worsens a prior injury or condition. Fortunately, Florida has addressed the issue of liability by applying the eggshell skull doctrine to personal injury claims. Readers may note that different individuals use different terms for the eggshell skull doctrine, sometimes called the eggshell plaintiff rule. However, the premise is the same.

What is the Eggshell Skull Doctrine?

The eggshell skull doctrine governs liability in instances where a person has previous ailments, injuries, or weaknesses that occurred prior to an accident or incident that affects the level of injuries in a subsequent accident or incident. The rule provides that an individual must be responsible for the damages caused by their negligent behavior, without regard to the fact that the injured party is more susceptible to damages because of a prior injury or preexisting condition. One common saying that encompasses the premise of the eggshell skull doctrine is to “take a person as you find them.” This accurately describes the rule as a responsible party is required to compensate an injured party for anything that was worsened by a subsequent encounter.

Case Scenario: Application of the Eggshell Skull Doctrine

The eggshell skull doctrine is typically asserted during a negligence cause of action against the responsible party in a personal injury claim. For a better understanding of the rule, see the following example:

Mary is an 11-year-old girl, born with brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta (a disease where the bones in your body are extremely fragile). Unfortunately, Mary also suffers from hemophilia. Mary is with her mother who is shopping in a Florida grocery store. As they walk through one of the aisles, Mary slips on a clear slick substance causing Mary to fall onto her knees. Mary breaks 25 different bones in her body as a result of the fall, some of which puncture her skin resulting in a significant loss of blood. As a result of the injury, Mary spends a significant amount of time in the hospital undergoing surgeries, blood transfusions, and treatment for the pain she suffered. Mary’s parents sue the popular grocery chain for negligence.

If a negligence claim is successfully asserted, the eggshell skull doctrine will allow Mary’s parents to recover the total amount of damages incurred as a result of the fall.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

In settlement negotiations or to unrepresented parties, defendants often assert that they are not responsible for anything above and beyond those injuries ‘normally’ associated with an accident or incident. However, this is a strategic effort to avoid liability as personal injury attorneys are well aware of the eggshell skull doctrine and its application. If you are injured in Port St. Lucie, you deserve fair compensation, despite the presence of a preexisting condition. The attorneys at Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. can help you obtain the relief you deserve.

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