What is the eggshell skull rule?

The eggshell skull rule is a legal doctrine in Connecticut and around the country that holds individuals who cause injury to others due to negligent or intentional acts liable for all resulting damage even if they could not have foreseen the consequences of their actions. The rule is most commonly cited in personal injury cases involving plaintiffs who suffer from medical conditions that cause them to suffer far more serious injuries than they otherwise would have.

Wrongful acts

The eggshell skull rule is only used to determine damages after it has been established that the defendant committed a wrongful act. This means individuals who suffer injuries because of behavior that would not be considered tortious cannot use the rule as the grounds for a lawsuit. The rule is applied in this way to prevent individuals from being sued for behavior that would be considered normal even if another person suffers as a result.

The crumbling skull rule

Another rule is applied in personal injury cases involving plaintiffs with preexisting injuries that would have become more serious over time and were aggravated by the defendant’s actions. Under the crumbling skull rule, the plaintiff is awarded damages based on the degree to which the defendant’s actions made their situation worse. This is because a plaintiff with an eggshell skull was enjoying life fully before they suffered as a result of the defendant’s tortious act, but an accident victim with a crumbling skull was already suffering from a condition that would have become more serious over time.

Equitable outcomes

Both the eggshell and crumbling skull rules are examples of how the law has evolved to ensure that civil actions result in an equitable outcome. The eggshell skull rule prevents individuals avoiding responsibility for wrongful acts, and the crumbling skull rule ensures that they are only held accountable for damages that they actually caused.