The Duty To Take The Plaintiff “As You Find Them”
How does a preexisting condition affect your accident injury claim? What if the defendant argues that you already had the injuries you claim were sustained from the accident? Cornell's Legal Information Institute defines the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine, also referred to as the Eggshell Skull Rule, as:
“[A] doctrine that makes a defendant liable for the plaintiff's unforeseeable and uncommon reactions to the defendant's negligent or intentional tort. If the defendant commits a tort against the plaintiff without a complete defense, the defendant becomes liable for any injury that is magnified by the plaintiff's peculiar characteristics.”
In other words, the negligent party responsible for the accident (or “defendant tortfeasor”) has a duty to take the victim “as they find them.” Not only is the defendant who proximately caused injury to another person responsible for the injuries directly resulting from the accident, they are also responsible for exacerbations or worsening of any pre-existing health conditions that the victim had even before the new injuries were sustained.
Let's consider an example. Suppose Roger has diagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from his years spent playing college football. One night, while driving home from work, Roger's vehicle is struck by a car that ran a red light. The collision caused Roger's head to jerk forward before hitting the inflating airbag, resulting in a new neck injury, as well as a concussion that worsened his TBI.
In this situation, the driver who ran the red light is surely responsible for the neck injury sustained as a direct result of his negligence. But what about the Traumatic Brain Injury? A “normal” driver, the defendant argues, would not have sustained a concussion from an airbag. It was Roger's preexisting condition that made him more susceptible to the injury.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine protects Roger in this regard. His preexisting condition may have put him at greater risk of concussion, but since the defendant must take Roger “as they find him,” they are responsible for the full extent of his injuries, including the worsening of a preexisting condition.
When the evidence presented at trial is sufficient to establish an exacerbation or aggravation of a preexisting condition, the court will inform the jury of the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine by stating the following from the California Civil Jury Instructions No. 3927:
“Under the Judicial Council of California, the Civil Jury Instructions No. 3927, the Aggravation of Preexisting Condition or disability, the law read as follows: [Name of plaintiff] is not entitled to damages for any physical or emotional condition that [he/she] had before [name of defendant]’s conduct occurred. However, if [name of plaintiff] had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by [name of defendant]’s wrongful conduct, you must award damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate [him/her] for the effect on that condition.”
Contact Alexander Napolin Today, Your California Accident Injury Attorney
Attorney Alexander Napolin knows about these types of defenses and how California the law applies to them. When you hire Napolin Law Firm, you will no longer be pushed around by an insurance agent who cares nothing about you or your injury. Instead, you will have a lawyer who will fight to obtain the benefits you are entitled to. If you have been injured by the negligence of a third party, Attorney Alexander Napolin will speak with you for free about your case. Call our office for your free consultation, or fill out a claim evaluation form at NapolinLaw.com and Attorney Alexander Napolin will call you within 24 hours to discuss your case for free.
Remember, do not let the insurance agent tell you what you are entitled to or what you claim is worth. They do not care about you or your case. Retain an attorney who does. Call Napolin Law Firm today! Napolin Law Firm serves Southern California, including the Inland Empire, Orange County, Los Angeles County and Riverside County. Nearby cities serviced include Chino, Claremont, Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Azusa, Glendora, Pomona, Montclair, Fontana, Rialto, San Bernardino, Corona, Colton and Diamond Bar.