SUMMARY OF LAW
A wrongfully injured person is not entitled to damages for any physical or emotional condition that he or she had before wrongdoing conduct occurred. However, if person had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by wrongful conduct, the injured person is entitled to damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate him or her for the effect on that condition. Hastie v. Handeland (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 599, 604; Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255; C.A.C.I. No. 3927
A pre-existing injury, condition, or disease is a condition that existed before the time of an accident or occurrence.
When a preexisting injury, condition, or disease (whether dormant or active) is aggravated or accelerated by an event caused from the defendant's negligence, such negligence may be held a proximate or legal cause of the injured person's condition (Campbell v. Los Angeles Traction Co. (1902) 137 Cal. 565, 568-569; Smith v.Schumacker (1938) 30 Cal App. 2d 251, 263.
The negligent party may be liable for the resulting harm to another even though a physical condition of the other, which is unforeseeable (i.e., neither known nor should be known) to the negligent party, makes the injury greater than that which the negligent party (as a reasonable person), should have foreseen as a probable result of his or her conduct. Sloane v. Southern C.R. Co. (1896) 111 Cal. 668; Hagy v. Allied Chemical & Dye Corp. (1954) 122 Cal. App. 2d 361.
For example, a man intentionally or even negligently moderately slugs a victim in the skull. The victim, unbeknownst to the assailant, had a rare condition making his skull paper-thin, resulting in unexpected multiple fractures of the skull due to the punch to the skull. Even though the assailant could not foresee that his modest punch would fracture the egg-shell thin skull into pieces, and even if he did not intend or foresee such harm, the assailant is, nevertheless, liable for the injuries caused by the blow to the skull.
Therefore, a negligent party takes the risk that his liability will be increased by reason of the actual pre-existing physical condition of the person to whom the negligent act was committed. Fox v. San Francisco (1975) 47 Cal. App. 3d 164.
Thus, even though a person incurred greater injuries due to his or her preexisting degenerative neck, back or other condition, the negligent party is liable for such injuries, because of the "egg-shell skull" rule (“thin-skull” rule). This rules makes negligent tortfeasor liable for the aggravation of pre-existing injuries aggravated by said tortfeasor’s acts or omissions. Such rule applies to tortuous negligence, intentional acts, or strict liability.
In other words, “you take the plaintiff victim as you find him or her.”
If you've been injured, even if you had a pre-existing condition, contact Christian lawyer, Matthew B. Tozer for a free consultation.