Skip to Main Content

Nevada Personal Injury Law: Understanding the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule

Were you injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another party? You have the right to pursue a personal injury claim. Through a legal claim, financial compensation may be sought for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Unfortunately, the claims process can often prove to be challenging—especially for people who have pre-existing medical conditions. 

A pre-existing condition does not prevent you from bringing a personal injury claim in Nevada. In fact, a legal doctrine called the eggshell plaintiff rule provides some important protections. Within this article, our Las Vegas personal injury attorney provides a comprehensive overview of the key points to understand about the eggshell plaintiff rule in Nevada. 

What is the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule?

Also referred to as the ‘eggshell skull rule’ or eggshell plaintiff doctrine’, the eggshell plaintiff rule is a legal principle that holds that a defendant can still be held liable in a tort action even if the victim was uniquely susceptible to injuries. It is so named based on the hypothetical situation of a person who has a very thin skull—one that is fragile as an eggshell—would suffer far more harm than expected in an accident due to their vulnerable condition. In theory, a defendant may try to escape liability in this type of case by arguing that the damage is not all their fault because they could not know the other person was so easily hurt. However, the eggshell plaintiff rule prevents this type of defense from being raised in a personal injury claim.

Nevada Follows the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine

Similar to many other jurisdictions, Nevada follows the eggshell plaintiff rule. If a person in Nevada causes harm to another person through negligence, they can be held legally responsible for all the resulting injuries, even if those injuries are more severe because the person was already weak or sick. The courts in Nevada do not allow the person who caused the harm to argue that the injuries should not be fully counted just because the victim was fragile. The legal principle helps to ensure that all victims are treated fairly in the claims process, regardless of any pre-existing conditions

Understanding the Rule Through Some Examples

How the eggshell plaintiff rule in Nevada actually works can be best understood through some simple hypothetical examples. Here is an overview of two brief examples that explains how the eggshell plaintiff doctrine would apply in some relatively common situations: 

  • An Elderly Man Suffers a Broken Hip in a Low Speed Car Crash: Imagine that an elderly man has osteoporosis, which is a condition that makes his bones weak and brittle. He is involved in a low-speed car crash in Las Vegas. An investigation reveals that the other driver ran a stop sign. In many cases, such a minor accident might not cause serious harm. However, due to his condition, he suffers a serious broken hip. Under the eggshell plaintiff rule, the driver who was responsible for the crash cannot argue that they should pay less for the man’s injuries just because he was more susceptible to injury. The driver is liable for all of the elderly man’s damages, including the more severe injury of a broken hip.
  • A Woman With a Knee Injury Aggravates a Serious Condition in Slip and Fall: Along the same lines, imagine that woman who has a previous knee injury that makes her more prone to falls. One day, she slipped on a wet floor in a store in Las Vegas. The sign warning about the slippery surface was missing. She falls and not only injures her already weak knee further but also develops a serious back problem as a result of the fall. The store might want to say they are only responsible for a typical injury from such a fall, not the more extreme one that she suffered due to her pre-existing condition. That being said, under the eggshell plaintiff rule, the store can be held responsible for all the woman’s injuries, including the aggravated knee injury and the new back problem. They must take her as they find her. 

The Bottom Line: A Pre-Existing Condition Does Not Prevent You From Bringing a Claim

For injured victims and their families, the most important thing to know about the eggshell plaintiff doctrine is that having a pre-existing condition does not stop you from bringing a claim if you are injured due to someone else’s negligent actions or inactions. Nevada’s eggshell plaintiff rule is designed to ensure that everyone—no matter their pre-existing health condition or their prior vulnerabilities—has the right to seek full and fair compensation. It means that if you are injured, the person responsible cannot reduce their liability just because you were more susceptible to injury. 

Victims With Pre-Existing Conditions Still Face Some Unique Challenges 

While the eggshell plaintiff rule offers some much needed legal protection to injured victims with pre-existing conditions, they can still face unique challenges within the claims process. Proving that the new injury is distinct from the existing condition can be complicated. Indeed, in many cases, there is a relatively fine line between aggravating an old injury and causing a new one. Defendants may try to find a way to limit their liability. As the legal claims process can be more daunting for victims with pre-existing conditions, it is imperative that they have qualified legal representation from an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer. 

Schedule a Free Case Review With a Top-Tier Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Today

At Ladah Law Firm, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers are aggressive advocates for injured victims. We have helped clients secure more than $300 million in compensation across all of our practice areas. Have questions about pre-existing conditions? We can help. Reach out to us by phone at (702) 570-2037 or contact us online for a no cost, no strings attached initial consultation. With a law office in Las Vegas, we  represent injured victims throughout Clark County.