| Read Time: 4 minutes | Personal Injury
eggshell plaintiff rule

If you were injured in a Georgia accident that aggravated your pre-existing condition(s), you might be wondering how that can affect your personal injury claim. You may have heard of the eggshell plaintiff rule. This rule is important for people who have pre-existing injuries or medical conditions that make them more susceptible to harm in an accident. MG Law explains the eggshell doctrine and how it applies to your Georgia personal injury case.

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What Is the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule?

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, also known as the eggshell skull plaintiff rule or the eggshell theory, is a legal principle that says defendants cannot reduce their liability by claiming that the plaintiff was more prone to injury because of their physical or mental condition. It wasn’t Humpty Dumpty’s fault that he had a thin egg shell. If someone’s negligence hurt Humpty Dumpty, the at-fault person can’t claim a reduction in their responsibility for Humpty Dumpty’s injuries. Thus, under Georgia law, the defendant must accept the plaintiff as they are, even if they have a condition that makes them more fragile. This rule protects the rights of people who have pre-existing conditions or health issues that make them more susceptible to injuries, like diabetes or bone disorders.

Georgia Law and the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule

Georgia law embraces the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, ensuring that a negligent party or tortfeasor, takes you as you are as an eggshell plaintiff and, therefore, is responsible for all damages caused by their actions, regardless of any pre-existing conditions you may have. This means that:

  • The defendant is liable for all the harm they cause, no matter how unexpected or severe, because of the plaintiff’s condition;
  • The defendant cannot argue that your injury was caused or worsened by your health problems; and
  • You can recover if the accident aggravates or triggers a pre-existing condition, and any additional damages that result from the accident, such as increased pain, new symptoms, or longer recovery time, are compensable.

The principle is firmly established in cases like AT Sys. Se., Inc. v. Carnes, where the court stated: “A negligent actor must bear the risk that the victim’s actual physical condition will increase his liability.”

How Does the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule Apply to Your Personal Injury Case?

The eggshell plaintiff rule allows you to seek compensation for an accident in Georgia that aggravated your pre-existing injury or condition if you can show:

  • The accident made your condition worse than it was before, and 
  • How much of your suffering and expenses are related to the accident.

An expert witness, such as a doctor, can help you prove your additional damages under the rule by explaining how your condition and treatment changed because of the accident.

What Are Some of the Limitations and Complications of the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule?

The eggshell plaintiff rule can help you get compensation for your aggravated injury or condition. Still, it also has some challenges and limitations. Some of them are:

  • Causation. You need to prove that your pre-existing condition got worse because of the accident. This can be hard to do and may require medical evidence and expert testimony to show the connection between the accident and your current condition.
  • Severity. The rule may not apply if your pre-existing condition is severe. Your lawyer can assess how much your pre-existing condition limited you and how the accident affected it.
  • Fault. If you are partly to blame for the accident, your compensation may be lower. Your lawyer will try to ensure the fault and the damages are fair.

A skilled and assertive personal injury lawyer can help you collect and present strong evidence for your claim, counter the defendant’s arguments and defenses, negotiate a reasonable settlement, or go to trial if needed.

What Can You Recover as an Eggshell Plaintiff in Georgia?

If the accident worsened your pre-existing condition, you can seek compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses,
  • Lost wages, and  
  • Pain and suffering. 

However, your compensation may be affected by your own fault in the accident, if any. Georgia applies the modified comparative negligence rule, which means you can only recover compensation if you are less than 50% at fault for the accident. Your percentage of fault will also reduce your compensation. For example, if you are 10% at fault for the accident, and your total damages are $100,000, you will receive $90,000 from the defendant.

Let MG Law Help with Your Personal Injury Law Claim

If an accident aggravated your pre-existing injury or condition, you need a reliable and caring personal injury lawyer to assist you with your claim. MG Law’s Georgia team is highly qualified, knowledgeable, and resourceful. We regularly handle complicated cases involving pre-existing injuries or conditions. Contact us today at (770) 988-5252 for a free consultation and case review. We can protect your rights and interests and help you secure the highest compensation possible.

Author Photo

Amer Ahmad is a trial lawyer at MG Law. He represents seriously injured clients who are going through some of the most difficult moments of their lives. Amer’s practice includes representing families in wrongful death cases and individuals seriously injured by motor vehicle accidents, negligently maintained premises, and defective products. As a former insurance attorney who knows the insurance companies’ playbook, he helps MG Law clients even the playing field and avoid insurance tricks. Due to his experience and results, Amer has been named a Georgia Rising Star by Super Lawyers and Atlanta Magazine from 2019 until 2024. Only 2.5% of all lawyers in Georgia are selected as Rising Stars.