What is the Eggshell skull rule?

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What is the Eggshell skull rule? Blog Image


Underlining that the state and central consumer courts incorrectly applied the ‘eggshell skull’ legal principle, the Supreme Court restored the compensation of Rs 5 lakhs awarded by the district consumer forum in a medical negligence case.

About Eggshell skull rule: 

  • It is a common law principle applied in civil litigation.
  • It states that all victims should be fully compensated for their losses, even in situations where the victim was more-susceptible to injury due to a predisposing condition or preexisting injury.
  • This rule ensures that a defendant (the person being sued) cannot escape liability for exacerbating a pre-existing condition due to their negligence. 
  • The eggshell skull doctrine is named after a hypothetical situation where a person with a fragile skull, akin to an eggshell, suffers a head injury.
    • If the victim’s skull fractures more easily than the average person, the defendant is still fully liable for all resulting damages, despite the victim’s unusual vulnerability. 
  • Despite its name, the eggshell skull rule applies to all types of injuries, including physical, emotional, and psychological harm. 
  • The rule is applied for claiming an enhanced compensation — for damage that is more than what could have been ordinarily anticipated to be caused by the defendant.
  • The eggshell skull rule has consequently also been referred to as the ‘thin skull rule’ in many of the cases
  • Origin: The origins of the eggshell skull rule are most often traced back to an 1891 Vosburg v. Putney case in Wisconsin, US.

Q1: What is Civil litigation?

Civil litigation is a term that applies to any legal dispute where two or more parties are seeking monetary damages or a specific performance and does not include criminal accusations.

Source: SC rejects application of ‘eggshell skull’ rule in a case: What is this legal principle?