If someone is injured due to another’s negligence, the unexpected frailty of the injured person is not a valid defense against liability. The eggshell rule generally holds that the negligent party is liable for all consequences resulting from their negligent activities leading to the injury of another person even if the victim has an unusually high level of damage due to a pre-existing vulnerability or medical condition.
As the term implies, someone who is injured more seriously because they “have a skull as brittle as an eggshell” is entitled to all damages for their injuries despite the fact they were more vulnerable to injury. In a car accident, for example, if a motorist with brittle bones is seriously injured in a minor fender bender with a negligent motorist, the negligent party may be responsible for substantially more damages even though another motorist (without a preexisting condition) might have walked away without a scratch. Damages are payable for any additional pain and disability the victim suffers even though the pain and disability is greater than the injured person would have suffered in the absence of the prior condition.
Under Iowa law, a negligent party is not given a free pass just because a victim wasn’t in perfect health before an accident. Iowans have a right to fair compensation if pre-existing conditions are made worse in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall or other mishap at the hands of a negligent party. However, it is not always easy to get that compensation because insurance companies will claim that your injuries were not a result of the accident at all, or to a lesser extent than is true. You may be in for an uphill battle.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are injured in an accident that has made a pre-existing condition worse, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help. It is important to be transparent about any pre-existing conditions and to be specific about what differences there are between your pre and post-accident condition when working with your attorney, medical personnel or the insurer. It may be helpful to see your existing medical care provider who can speak to your worsened condition and provide documentation to help prove your claim.
If you are injured in a car accident, or a slip trip and fall or any other negligent action and have a pre-existing condition, contact Iowa personal injury lawyer Marc A. Humphrey for assistance today at 515-331-3510.