The Eggshell Skull Rule

What is the Eggshell Rule?

The eggshell rule, also known as the eggshell skull doctrine, is a legal principle in personal injury law that holds a defendant responsible for all damages caused by their negligence, regardless of the injured person’s pre-existing conditions or vulnerabilities. In simple terms, the rule states that you take your victim as you find them. [1]

The concept behind the eggshell rule is that a person with pre-existing injuries or medical conditions should not be disadvantaged when seeking compensation for the injuries they sustain due to someone else’s negligence.

Even if a person is more susceptible to injury than the average person, the at-fault party is still liable for the full extent of the harm caused.

This legal doctrine is based on the idea that the defendant should bear the responsibility for the consequences of their wrongdoing, regardless of the injured person’s physical or mental condition. It ensures that the injured party receives the necessary compensation to cover their medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any other damages caused.

The eggshell rule applies to various scenarios, including automobile accidents, slip-and-falls, medical malpractice, intentional torts, and more. It covers a wide range of injuries, from physical to emotional, and even includes pre-existing conditions like brittle bone syndrome or osteogenesis imperfecta.

Why Does the Eggshell Skull Rule Exist?

Without this rule, those with pre-existing injuries or medical conditions would be unfairly disadvantaged when seeking compensation for the harm caused by someone else’s negligence.

The existence of the eggshell rule reflects the principle of tort law, which is to compensate the injured party for the harm they suffer as a result of someone else’s actions or negligence. It ensures that individuals with pre-existing injuries or medical conditions are not treated as second-class citizens in the pursuit of justice.

The eggshell rule also takes into account the fact that some injuries may not be immediately apparent and can be exacerbated by the defendant’s actions.

It emphasizes that the at-fault party has a legal obligation to act responsibly and take into consideration the potential consequences of their actions on others, regardless of their physical or mental condition.

Why Does the Eggshell Rule Exist?

How Do You Know If You Have Pre-existing Conditions?

Pre-existing conditions refer to any medical or physical conditions that exist prior to any injury or accident. These conditions may range from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, to previous injuries and even mental health conditions.

Your medical history can be obtained from your primary care physician or other specialists you have seen in the past. They can provide insights into any relevant pre-existing conditions, including details about diagnoses, treatments, and medications taken.

Taking note of any symptoms or physical limitations you experience on a regular basis can help identify potential pre-existing conditions. If you frequently experience joint pain or have difficulty breathing, it may indicate an existing medical condition that could be relevant in the event of an injury.

It is important to disclose any pre-existing conditions to your personal injury attorney when seeking legal advice. They can help determine the impact of these conditions on your case and ensure that your rights are protected.

What Kind of Accidents Does the Eggshell Rule Apply To?

The Eggshell Rule applies to a wide range of accidents and incidents where someone suffers harm due to the actions or negligence of another party.

It is not limited to specific types of accidents but rather focuses on the unique circumstances and characteristics of the injured person.

Let’s say an individual with a pre-existing medical condition like osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone syndrome) gets into a car accident.

Due to their condition, their bones are more fragile, and they sustain more injuries and more severe injuries compared to an average person.

In this scenario, the Eggshell Rule holds the at-fault driver responsible for the full extent of the injuries, even though the injuries may be more severe than what a normal person would have experienced.

What Kind of Accidents Does the Eggshell Rule Apply To?

This rule is not only applied to car accidents; it can also be applied to cases involving medical malpractice or negligence.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident, Only to Find Out That You Have Pre-existing Conditions That Were Exacerbated by the Incident?

Contact Goldberg & Loren’s experienced personal injury lawyers today to learn more about how the eggshell skull rule can help you in your case.


[1] Eggshell skull. (2023, September 17). Wikipedia.

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