The Eggshell Skull Rule of Law

If a tortfeasor (negligent party) inflicts injury on a victim and the ultimate harm is worse than what would normally be expected because the victim was more vulnerable due to some pre-existing injury, then the tortfeasor is still responsible for the whole harm suffered. This is referred to as the eggshell skull rule.

This famous rule of tort law can be traced back to the case of Vosburg v. Putney 50 N.W. 403 (Wis. 1891). You take your victim as you find him!

However, the Defendant may be excused from liability if they can show that the harm suffered would have happened anyway from the pre-existing conditions regardless of whether a tort happened or not. A “tort” is a legal term that means a wrongful act or omission leading to legal liability.


The basic principle of the eggshell skull rule is that the Defendant in a civil case must take full responsibility for all the damages that they caused to the victim, regardless of the fact that the particular Plaintiff was more susceptible than a normal person may have been.

This is a very important rule when it comes to personal injury claims and it shows up all the time in car wreck cases. For example, if an older person is rear-ended while sitting at a red light, and they suffer a broken back because they have weaker bones – whereas a younger person may only have suffered soft tissue injuries in the exact same situation, the person who hit them is still responsible for the full extent of the damages they caused.


You may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation if you have been hurt in a car wreck, slip & fall, 18-wheeler wreck, motorcycle crash, suffered a dog bite, even if you have a pre-existing injury. It may be that your pre-existing injury was aggravated or exacerbated by the Defendant’s harmful negligent conduct. Always remember that the eggshell skull rule only applies to bodily injuries and not emotional injuries.


Cases involving clients with pre-existing injuries are complicated and take special consideration in handling them. Our Attorneys have helped thousands of people who have been hurt due to no fault of their own, many with pre-existing injuries. Pepper & Odom’s staff is trained to work with medical providers to make sure we gather all the necessary medical records and bills related to a client’s injuries. Our personal injury Attorneys are required to take Continuing Legal Education classes every single year to make sure they are always knowledgeable and informed.


If you’ve suffered bodily injuries due to the negligent conduct of someone else, the Attorneys at Pepper & Odom Law Firm can help. Contact us online or call 601-202-1111 today for a free initial consultation.