the defendant must take his victim as he finds him

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kachibi

Senior Member
Chinese
<< the defendant must take his victim as he finds him >>

This maxim comes from a famous tort law rule-the eggshell rule. But what exactly does this sentence mean?
 
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  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It means that the defendant is not entitled to make assumptions about the victim. Any characteristics which the victim happens to have must be taken into account in the judgement, whether the defendant could reasonably have known about them or not.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It means that the defendant is not entitled to make assumptions about the victim. Any characteristics which the victim happens to have must be taken into account in the judgement, whether the defendant could reasonably have known about them or not.
    Can you exemplify that? I still do not really understand the meaning of it. Thanks
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    If I push you and you fall, then I am liable for all of the consequences of the fall, even if you have a medical condition I was unaware of which means that your injuries are far worse than I could reasonably have expected. Because I committed a tort I must assume all of the consequences to the actual victim, and not some "standard" victim.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The classic case that gave rise to this saying was
    Dulieu v. White & Sons, [1901] 2 K.B. 669 at 679, [the] so-called “thin skull” case, and where [the judge] said:
    ‘If a man is negligently run over or otherwise negligently injured in his body, it is no answer to the sufferer’s claim for damages that he would have suffered less injury, or no injury at all, if he had not had an unusually thin skull or an unusually weak heart.’
    http://www.icbcclaiminfo.com/node/161 The webpage at the link goes on the discuss the meaning in depth: it is worth reading.
     

    kachibi

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Actually I know the gist of the eggshell rule. But I just don't understand the very literal aspect of the sentence: what are "take a victim" and "find him"? Why "take" and "find" are used?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    To take something as you find it means that you do not choose (or, as in the tort example, can't choose) the examples of something. I take my apples as I find them - I don't choose the apple I like best, I take the first one.

    The defendant doesn't get to choose only strong healthy victims - the victims are whoever they are.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    It means that the defendant is not entitled to make assumptions about the victim. Any characteristics which the victim happens to have must be taken into account in the judgement, whether the defendant could reasonably have known about them or not.


    Thanks glasguensis, that explained it well.

    It seems quite a casual expression to use in this rather technical context.
    "you have to take it as you find it is" a very common idiom in England, to indicate you have to deal with what you have got. I might say it when unexpected visitors call, if the house is a bit of a mess, for instance.
     
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