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Eggshell Head Plaintiff

Eggshell Head Plaintiff

Brien Roche

The concept of an eggshell head plaintiff is known to most attorneys.  It refers to a client who was injured who has pre-existing sensitivities.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has a so-called “pre-existing condition”.  It means that the person may be very vulnerable.  The person may be very weak.  They may be very susceptible to injury for a number of reasons.  An elderly person may be an eggshell head plaintiff.  They may not have any pre-existing condition per se.  However due to their age they are simply very susceptible to injury.  An event that may not injure you or me may cause injury to an old person.

Eggshell Head Plaintiff Is A Recognized Concept

In 2019 Justice Kelsey of Virginia Supreme Court in Carrington v. Aquatic Company., 297 Va. 520, 526 (2019) referred to this concept. He said it is recognized both in tort law and workers’ compensation law.  The legal principle that is recognized is that when a defendant injures a plaintiff, they take the plaintiff as they find them.  That is, the plaintiff may be an eggshell head plaintiff.  The defendant is responsible for any injuries caused by their action or omission.  Bradner v. Mitchell, 234 Va. 483, 489 (1987); Watford v. Morse, 202 Va. 605 (1961)

In Ragsdale v. Jones, 202 Va. 278 (1960) the trial court gave an instruction that stated that if the jury believes the plaintiff was more susceptible to emotional upset than the ordinary person and this made her injuries more severe, then she can be compensated for that.

The Virginia Model Jury Instructions do not deal with this concept very well.  There are a number of other jury instructions from other states that better address it.  They are:

Eggshell Head Plaintiff-Law From Other States

California:  You must decide the full amount of money that will fairly compensate the Plaintiff for all damages caused by the Defendant. This applies even if the Plaintiff was more susceptible to injury than a normally healthy person. And also even if a normally healthy person would not have suffered similar injury.

Minnesota:  In determining the amount of Plaintiff’s actual damages, you cannot reduce the amount of or refuse to award any such damages because of any physical frailties that may have made him more susceptible.

New York and Iowa

New York:The fact that the plaintiff may have a physical or mental condition that makes him more susceptible to injury than a normal healthy person does not relieve the defendant of liability for all injuries sustained as a result of its negligence.  The defendant is liable even though those injuries are greater than those that would have been sustained by a normal healthy person under the same circumstances.

Iowa:  If the Plaintiff had a prior condition making her more susceptible to injury than a person in normal health, then the Defendant is responsible for all injuries and damages which are experienced by the Plaintiff caused by the Defendant’s actions. This is true even though the injuries claimed produce a greater injury than those which might have been experienced by a normal person.

Eggshell Head Plaintiff-Texas

Texas:  You are instructed that a defendant takes a plaintiff as she finds her. This means that regardless of the Plaintiff’s physical condition at the time of the incident, she is entitled to recover the damages resulting from the incident conditioned as she was at the time of the injury. The fact that the Plaintiff had physical problems at the time of the incident that made her more susceptible to injury does not, in itself, relieve the Defendant of liability for all damages sustained by the Plaintiff that were proximately caused by or aggravated by the incident.

Maine

Maine:  If you should find that at the time of the incident that the Plaintiff had a bodily condition that made (him/her) more susceptible to injury than a person in good health, the Defendant is responsible for all injuries suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of Defendant’s negligence. This is true even if those injuries are greater than would have been suffered by a person in good health.

To put it another way, the law says that if you negligently cause damage to another person, you must take your victim as you find (him/her).

What this means is that if you find that Plaintiff prior to the accident had a particular pre-existing injury and if you further find that Defendant negligently caused further injury to Plaintiff’s pre-existing problem, then Plaintiff is entitled to full compensation. This is true even though (his/her) injuries may have been aggravated or rendered more serious by reason of a pre-existing physical condition.

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on this topic see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the post on this site dealing with damages issues.

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Eggshell Head Plaintiff

Eggshell Head Plaintiff

Brien Roche

The concept of an eggshell head plaintiff is known to most attorneys.  It refers to a client who was injured who has pre-existing sensitivities.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that the person has a so-called “pre-existing condition”.  It means that the person may be very vulnerable.  The person may be very weak.  They may be very susceptible to injury for a number of reasons.  An elderly person may be an eggshell head plaintiff.  They may not have any pre-existing condition per se.  However due to their age they are simply very susceptible to injury.  An event that may not injure you or me may cause injury to an old person.

Eggshell Head Plaintiff Is A Recognized Concept

In 2019 Justice Kelsey of Virginia Supreme Court in Carrington v. Aquatic Company., 297 Va. 520, 526 (2019) referred to this concept. He said it is recognized both in tort law and workers’ compensation law.  The legal principle that is recognized is that when a defendant injures a plaintiff, they take the plaintiff as they find them.  That is, the plaintiff may be an eggshell head plaintiff.  The defendant is responsible for any injuries caused by their action or omission.  Bradner v. Mitchell, 234 Va. 483, 489 (1987); Watford v. Morse, 202 Va. 605 (1961)

In Ragsdale v. Jones, 202 Va. 278 (1960) the trial court gave an instruction that stated that if the jury believes the plaintiff was more susceptible to emotional upset than the ordinary person and this made her injuries more severe, then she can be compensated for that.

The Virginia Model Jury Instructions do not deal with this concept very well.  There are a number of other jury instructions from other states that better address it.  They are:

Eggshell Head Plaintiff-Law From Other States

California:  You must decide the full amount of money that will fairly compensate the Plaintiff for all damages caused by the Defendant. This applies even if the Plaintiff was more susceptible to injury than a normally healthy person. And also even if a normally healthy person would not have suffered similar injury.

Minnesota:  In determining the amount of Plaintiff’s actual damages, you cannot reduce the amount of or refuse to award any such damages because of any physical frailties that may have made him more susceptible.

New York and Iowa

New York:The fact that the plaintiff may have a physical or mental condition that makes him more susceptible to injury than a normal healthy person does not relieve the defendant of liability for all injuries sustained as a result of its negligence.  The defendant is liable even though those injuries are greater than those that would have been sustained by a normal healthy person under the same circumstances.

Iowa:  If the Plaintiff had a prior condition making her more susceptible to injury than a person in normal health, then the Defendant is responsible for all injuries and damages which are experienced by the Plaintiff caused by the Defendant’s actions. This is true even though the injuries claimed produce a greater injury than those which might have been experienced by a normal person.

Eggshell Head Plaintiff-Texas

Texas:  You are instructed that a defendant takes a plaintiff as she finds her. This means that regardless of the Plaintiff’s physical condition at the time of the incident, she is entitled to recover the damages resulting from the incident conditioned as she was at the time of the injury. The fact that the Plaintiff had physical problems at the time of the incident that made her more susceptible to injury does not, in itself, relieve the Defendant of liability for all damages sustained by the Plaintiff that were proximately caused by or aggravated by the incident.

Maine

Maine:  If you should find that at the time of the incident that the Plaintiff had a bodily condition that made (him/her) more susceptible to injury than a person in good health, the Defendant is responsible for all injuries suffered by the Plaintiff as a result of Defendant’s negligence. This is true even if those injuries are greater than would have been suffered by a person in good health.

To put it another way, the law says that if you negligently cause damage to another person, you must take your victim as you find (him/her).

What this means is that if you find that Plaintiff prior to the accident had a particular pre-existing injury and if you further find that Defendant negligently caused further injury to Plaintiff’s pre-existing problem, then Plaintiff is entitled to full compensation. This is true even though (his/her) injuries may have been aggravated or rendered more serious by reason of a pre-existing physical condition.

Call, or contact us for a free consult. Also for more info on this topic see the Wikipedia pages. Also see the post on this site dealing with damages issues.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

    Contact Us For A Free Consultation

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