Explaining the Thin Skull Rule


Explaining the Thin Skull Rule

We also know the thin skull rule as the eggshell rule. We use it in civil litigation with a similar rule applying to criminal law. This rule states that the defendant is responsible for all the consequences that injured the plaintiff, even if they took more damages because of a pre-existing condition.

The thin skull rule says that the plaintiff’s physical, social, and economic status is taken into account. This means that the defendant is responsible, even if he or she is unaware of the pre-existing condition.

The thin skull rule applies to all areas of civil litigation to including:

  • Intentional Torts
  • Negligence
  • Strict liability cases

An example of this would be if someone had a medical condition such as brittle bone syndrome. If the plaintiff gets into a car accident that breaks a bone or two, the defendant can’t claim that the brittle bone syndrome caused the breaks.

The thin skull rule differs from the crumbling skull rule, though the two are related. This rule states that the plaintiff has had a condition or injury that predates his or her claim that has become worse over a period of time. The defendant is not responsible for the deterioration over time. The defendant is responsible for the degree of an injury being worsened due to what the plaintiff is claiming in his or her litigation.

There is no requirement that the defendant physically touched the plaintiff. If the defendant trespassed on the plaintiff’s property, and the plaintiff had a heart attack, then the defendant is liable for all the damages.

Negligence claims must convince a judge or jury of the following:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care, like looking for pedestrians or other drivers.
  • The defendant violated his or her duty of care by running a red light or texting while driving.
  • The defendant’s recklessness caused your injuries.

The defendant caused the damages you suffered, such as wage loss, medical bills, and pain and suffering. The thin skull rule does not help the defendant.

Having a pre-existing condition or injury may complicate your case, it does not disqualify you from getting compensation. Without this rule, insurance companies would argue that you already had a condition that made you prone to injuries, then you are not entitled to compensation. The thin skull rule is centuries old, and protects the plaintiff when their injury is aggravated by the negligence of the defendant.

If you, the plaintiff, have a pre-existing condition, you will need to prove your condition through a testimony of medical experts. The reason for this is that it is easier to prove that your injury is because of a car crash, but  pre-existing conditions complicate matters.

A pre-existing condition requires medical testimony on your behalf because they can tell the judge or jury your injuries are because of the negligence of the defendant. An example is if you have spinal issues due to a bulging disc. If you’ve been in a crash, your pre-crash MRI is going to show a tiny bulge.

After the crash, your doctor needs to do another MRI because you’ve said you have shooting pain down your leg. The new MRI leads to surgery and the inability to work for months. This law then requires the defendant to compensate you, the plaintiff, and this link explains it in depth.