• The eggshell skull rule is a common law principle applied in civil litigation.
  • Essentially, the offender is accountable for all harms that may be exacerbated as a result of the wounded person’s unique characteristics, which the offender may be unaware of.
  • Simply put, the defendant would be held liable for damage sustained by a person when he struck him on the head, even if the victim possessed a very delicate skull or a ‘eggshell’ skull.
  • A person who has an eggshell skull would be more severely impacted by an act, which an otherwise “normal person” would be able to withstand,” the SC said in its judgment of the case.
  • 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.


You may incorporate some of the following points in the body of your answer:

What was the case?

  • In 2005, one Jyoti Devi went in to have her appendix removed in a hospital in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district. Though the surgery was as planned, her abdominal pain would not subside. What followed was a four-year ordeal and several hospital visits. Ultimately, doctors at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Chandigarh, found that “a 2.5 cm foreign body (needle)” was left behind in her abdomen, which needed to be surgically removed.
  • When Jyoti moved the district consumer forum for compensation, she was awarded Rs 5 lakhs for medical negligence by the hospital in Mandi. However, when the hospital appealed against the order, the state consumer forum reduced the compensation to Rs 1 lakh and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) enhanced it to Rs 2 lakh.

Supreme Court rule

  • The Supreme Court has restored the district forum’s decision on compensation and said that the other two courts had awarded a “paltry” and “unjust” sum even while they applied the eggshell skull rule.
  • The SC held that the eggshell skull rule would not apply in Jyoti’s case since the facts of the case do not indicate that she had a “pre-existing vulnerability or medical condition, because of which the victim may have suffered ‘unusual damage’.”
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish July 6, 2024