Personal injury cases and personal injury law are exacting and complicated, and this body of laws is intended to help those injured by the negligence of others. The eggshell or thin skull rule, as it is known, is one element of the protections provided by personal injury law, and it relates to the issue of foreseeability in the case at hand. For example, if the injured party in an accident is older, the at-fault party’s attorney may claim that the plaintiff suffered greater damage because of his or her age, but such thin skull arguments are not allowable in personal injury cases, which are civil trials.
Personal Injury Law: The Basics
To bring a successful personal injury case, all of the following must apply:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of some sort (Motorists owe others on the road the duty of driving safely, for example).
- The defendant failed to uphold that duty (Distracted drivers, for example, fail to uphold their duty of care).
- The plaintiff was harmed in the process (If a distracted driver causes an injurious accident, for example).
- The harm leads to the plaintiff incurring actual damages, such as medical costs, lost wages, and/or physical or emotional pain and suffering.
There is also an issue of foreseeability involved, which refers to whether the defendant should have reasonably foreseen the risk involved (the risk of harming the plaintiff). In traffic accidents involving distracted, drowsy, aggressive, and/or impaired drivers (per the example), this issue of foreseeability is obviously accounted for. Reasonable foreseeability is intended to help protect us from being held legally responsible for events we have no control over.
The Eggshell Skull Argument
Attorneys will sometimes attempt to slip a thin skull argument under the guise of reasonable foreseeability. For example, if a distracted motorist injures an older person – or anyone else who is more vulnerable to physical injury for any reason – in a traffic accident, that driver could not be reasonably expected to identify the injured party’s increased vulnerability and, therefore, should not be held legally responsible for any injuries that ensue (if thin skull arguments were permissible).
The Law’s View
The law, however, has a different take on the example above and finds that defendants must accept plaintiffs as they find them and are responsible for the reasonably foreseeable injuries caused by their negligence – regardless of how serious the defendant would have expected the ensuing damages to be. Courts, in other words, do not allow thin skull arguments. To do so would be to reward those defendants who happened to be lucky enough to injure someone who was fragile, to begin with.
Seek the Professional Legal Counsel of an Experienced Attorney
If someone else’s negligence leaves you injured, your ability to reach your fullest recovery hinges on obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled, and attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to skillfully advocating for that compensation. Mr. Pritchard is a formidable personal injury attorney, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.