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The “Eggshell Skull” Doctrine in Florida Personal Injury Cases

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Most accident victims in personal injury cases tend to have been reasonably able-bodied before their mishap, and approach recovering compensation from that point – that is, to help cover damages and expenses until they are back to normal. However, if someone was already disabled or otherwise had a pre-existing condition, the issue of recovery may become more complicated. If you are in this situation, it is important to enlist an experienced attorney to help clarify potential issues going forward.

Foreseeability Issues

The issue of pre-existing conditions and other types of medical fragility is an important one in Florida, because Florida has a higher than average percentage of elderly people, who are more likely to be fragile in that sense. Additionally, Florida also has a higher than average percentage of disabled people than the national average – 28.5 percent, compared to 25.6 percent in the U.S. as a whole. These percentages may rise and fall given the migratory nature of some Floridians, but generally they remain high.

If someone who is already medically fragile is involved in an accident, it is reasonable to assume that their injuries may be more severe than an able-bodied person’s, and their recovery will take far longer. However, what will often happen is that a defense attorney will say that their client had no way of knowing that the injured plaintiff was so fragile, which means that the injuries were, arguably, not foreseeable. If someone is injured in an unforeseeable way (for example, a freak accident or ‘act of God’), courts generally will not hold anyone liable, because nothing could have been done to avert the harm.

The Eggshell Rule

The answer to the question of medical fragility in Florida is a rule referred to as the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. The eggshell rule is a common-law doctrine that essentially states that a person must be responsible for the consequences of their negligent actions, regardless of the injured person’s susceptibility to harm. This directly contradicts the idea that harm has to be foreseeable – Florida jurisprudence essentially states that an injured person’s ability to recover for their harm matters more than the issue of foreseeability, because an ‘eggshell’ person cannot help being fragile.

Generally, as long as the alleged negligence substantially contributes to the injured person’s harm, they can recover even if something else (like a pre-existing condition) also played a role. In terms of damages, juries should, in theory, only award damages for the percentage of injury that happened as a result of the defendant’s negligence – but it is important to keep in mind that if the jury cannot separate the causes for damages, the injured plaintiff may be in line to recover for all of the harm they suffered.

Call An Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer Today

The idea of trying to define how much of your damages happened because of someone else’s negligence can be quite confusing, but having an Orlando personal injury attorney on your side can help clear the air. If you have been injured, and you had a pre-existing condition or disability, contacting the Hornsby Law Group may be your first step toward getting the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices today at (407) 499-8887 for a free consultation.

 

Resource:

elderaffairs.state.fl.us/doea/pubs/stats/County_2018_projections/Counties/Florida.pdf

https://www.hornsbylawgroup.com/the-florida-good-samaritan-act/

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