What is the Eggshell skull rule?

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What is the Eggshell skull rule? Blog Image

Overview:

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?