The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule in Pennsylvania Injury Lawsuits

March 16, 2018

If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by another person, you may be entitled to compensation, pursuant to Pennsylvania law.  Your ability to recover damages can be somewhat complicated, however, by the particular circumstances of your injury.

In Pennsylvania, and in other jurisdictions throughout the country, those who suffer from preexisting conditions that make them more “fragile” and likely to suffer severe injury are commonly referred to as eggshell plaintiffs.  For example, if you suffer from very high blood pressure, you may be more likely to sustain a serious heart attack in the event of a stressful accident scenario.  Depending on the circumstances, you would therefore be considered an eggshell plaintiff.

Despite suffering substantial losses as a consequence of their accident, many eggshell plaintiffs avoid litigating their claims, as they may not be familiar with the particularities of the law and their right to recover damages.  These plaintiffs may incorrectly believe that — because their injuries are “disproportionate” — they may not be entitled to a remedy for such injuries.  In reality, however, eggshell plaintiffs are entitled to compensation for their injuries, even if those injuries would not have occurred in a healthier person.

Causation Can Be a “Fuzzy” Issue

For an injured plaintiff to succeed in their lawsuit, they must show that the defendant not only acted negligently, recklessly, or intentionally, but that the conduct of the defendant was the substantial and proximate cause of their injuries.  Causation can be a fuzzy matter, in some cases, and especially so in cases involving eggshell plaintiffs.  In Pennsylvania, however, the prior susceptibility and fragility of a plaintiff will not break the chain of causation, and is therefore not applicable as a defense.

What is the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule?

It is a long-held principle of law that a defendant must “take the plaintiff as he finds him.”  In other words, the defendant must bear the costs in full, however uniquely the damages express themselves with a particular defendant.  This burden-shifting is fundamental to all personal injury lawsuits, even those without eggshell plaintiffs.  For example, a defendant may be liable for a higher amount of damages if you are employed at the time of the accident, as you may have additional wage loss damages to assert.

The consequences of a defendant’s negligent, reckless, or intentionally wrongful behavior are not always predictable, and it is the defendant who must bear the cost of this uncertainty.  This principle is exemplified by the eggshell plaintiff rule, which imposes full damages on the defendant, even when the plaintiff suffers from a condition that makes them more fragile and prone to injury.

Contact a Skilled Bethlehem Personal Injury Attorney Today

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our personal injury attorneys have represented numerous clients in a variety of litigation throughout Pennsylvania,  For over thirty years we have secured favorable verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, including those who would be defined as “eggshell plaintiffs.”

Have you suffered an injury due to the fault of another?  Call (888) 777-7098 today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Bethlehem personal injury attorney here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC.