When it comes to personal injury and car crash claims, there exists an assumption that all car crash injuries occur to victims that are in perfect condition before the crash. However, many of us know that this often is not reality. Over 27% of the United States’ population suffers from a pre-existing condition. There is a longstanding myth that pre-existing conditions can bar people from making much needed personal injury claims, however, this is not necessarily the case.
This myth comes from the understanding that a victim in a personal injury case is not entitled to receive payment for injuries and pre-existing conditions that are unaffected by an accident. While this is true, what often remains unknown is that these victims are entitled to receive compensation for pre-existing conditions to the degree that the accident has worsened or aggravated them. This means that any new injuries as well as exacerbated prior conditions can be subject to compensation.
It should be noted that the insurance companies and their lawyers will without a doubt attempt to argue the injury and pain is all preexisting and the crash did not aggravate that injury in the slightest. They’ll insinuate and sometimes go as far as outright stating that the injured person is simply trying to blame the crash for an injury that already existed just to get compensation. This is why it is important to seek advice from a car accident lawyer.
The Eggshell Doctrine
Many pre-existing conditions make a person more susceptible to injury that an otherwise average person would not be. Let’s look at why this doesn’t matter according to the Eggshell Doctrine:
Let us imagine that a negligent person injures another person, however the victim of this injury has an eggshell thin skull. The victim’s condition makes them much more susceptible to injury, causing them to suffer more damage than the average person. Under the Eggshell Plaintiff doctrine, the negligent person is liable for all the damages afflicted on a victim as-is, even if they are unaware that a victim is particularly fragile. Remember that the injured party did nothing wrong and shouldn’t be punished for having a pre-existing injury or because the person was born with a certain condition.
The Eggshell Skull Doctrine stems from California Law, which has been defined by these cases:
“That a plaintiff without such a [preexisting] condition would probably have suffered less injury, or no injury does not exonerate a defendant from liability.” Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 [142 Cal. Rptr. 69]
“The tortfeasor takes the person he injures as he finds him. If, by reason of some preexisting condition, his victim is more susceptible to injury, the tortfeasor is not thereby exonerated from liability.” Rideau v. Los Angeles Transit Lines (1954) 124 Cal.App.2d 466, 471 [268 P.2d 772]
It is important to understand that even with the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine, it will only apply when there are further damages beyond the scope of the pre-existing condition itself. Please feel free to explore the many other articles on this website to learn more. Next week, in a follow-up to this article, we will be sharing some do’s and don’ts if you’ve been injured and have a pre-existing injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, hiring an attorney should be a strong consideration even if you have a pre-existing injury. Our law office is ready to help so feel free to contact Ray Padilla Law, APC at (619) 431-1187 (San Diego) to speak with Attorney Ray Padilla directly. Please call even if its simply to ask, “what should I do?”