The thin skull rule

This is sometimes known as the eggshell skull rule.

In addition to the factual cause of death it must be shown that the accused's act caused the death of the victim. This amounts to the legal cause of death and there are two tests which can be used to establish legal Causation. One test is the thin skull test and the other test is whether the original injury was still operating and whether it was a significant cause of death.

 

In the event that there is some pre-existing condition of the victim the question raised is to what extent, if any, is this condition taken into account?  The thin skull test is applied and the result is that the defendant must take the victim as he or she finds him. As a consequence, for example, if the defendant produces a gun and aims and points it at the victim who has a heart condition which is made worse by the defendant's violent conduct and the victim has a heart attack and dies the defendant will be responsible in law for the victim's death. It makes no difference that the victim may have a pre-existing condition or be especially vulnerable making it more probable that they will suffer greater injury than someone without that condition or who is less vulnerable. The defendant will be responsible for the full extent of the injury.

 

In R v Blaue (1975) a member of the Jehovah's Witness religious group was stabbed and was hospitalised. Members of Jehovah's Witness do not believe it is right to have a blood transfusion on religious grounds. The victim refused to have a transfusion and as a result died. The matter reached the Court of Appeal who rejected the defendant's argument that the victim's refusal effectively broke the Chain Of Causation and introduced a New Intervening Act (novus actus interveniens). The reasoning being that one had to take their victim as they find them and that 'the question for decision is what caused her death. The answer is the stab wound. The fact that the victim refused to stop this end coming about did not break the causal connection between the act and death'.



R v Blaue - British and Irish Legal Information Institute

Causation # 1 - 'But For' by The Law Bank Youtube

Causation # 2 - Legal Causation by The Law Bank Youtube

Causation # 3 - Intervening Acts by The Law Bank  Youtube

causation in law :: www.forensicmed.co.uk

Factual Causation

 

 

 

 

 

 









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