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What Is The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine And How Can It Help Your Case?


We all have different bodies, and our bodies react differently to different injuries. Whether that’s because of age, some other medical condition, or just our own physiological makeup, everybody reacts differently, even to the exact same type of injury.

Not Your Normal Reaction

Let’s say, for example, you fall in a store and you sustain a very small scrape. Of course, superficial scrapes are minor, and generally heal with absolutely no long term effects. But now let’s imagine that you have peripheral artery disease, or diabetes, or hemophilia, or some other underlying condition, and now that scrape either continues to bleed, or doesn’t heal properly.

You end up losing a limb, from the after effects of the scrape, and perhaps infection that starts at the site of that scrape.

As another example, let’s say that you are in a rear end accident. You hurt your neck, and in time, you heal. But now imagine that you have an underlying heart condition, and the shock and trauma and pain from the accident sends you into cardiac arrest.

We all react to mental trauma differently as well. Some will bounce back up and get on with life, and others, suffering the exact same injury and in the exact same circumstances, may find their lives shattered, unable to get over the mental and emotional trauma of the accident or injury.

In these examples, the victim is certainly suffering a more serious, and traumatic injury, than that which most people in good health could be expected to suffer. Their ultimate medical outcomes–losing a limb and cardiac arrest–are certainly not a “normal” medical reaction, that someone in good health would be expected to have.

Is the Defendant liable for the entirety of the injury, even if the injury is greater than what “should have” been experienced by the victim?

The Eggshell Plaintiff

The answer is yes, under the long-standing doctrine of the eggshell plaintiff.

The eggshell plaintiff doctrine says that a Defendant takes a victim as the Defendant finds (or injures) that victim. If a Defendant injures a sturdy, healthy, victim whose body is naturally better equipped to resist serious injury, fine. But if the Defendant injures someone frail, or with a disability, or who just, for any reason at all, has a more serious medical reaction to the injury, the Defendant is liable for that injury.

Weakness Isn’t a Defense

The Defendant cannot assert as a Defense that the injury sustained by the victim wasn’t “normal,” or that it was a more excessive or serious injury that the “average” person would have suffered.

A victim also doesn’t end up unfairly punished (by limiting damages) just because that victim may have an illness, or just be smaller, frailer, or more prone to injuries or mental trauma.

Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for questions about getting compensation for your injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence.




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