What Is Causation?
When you sustain injuries in an accident or because of another party’s conduct, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and suffering. However, you have the burden of proving you are entitled to compensation for damages. Most actions for a tort are based on allegations of negligence.
A tort is conduct that results in injury, harm, or death to another person. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care based upon what a prudent person would have done given the same facts and circumstances. Most personal injury cases are based on negligence.
Causation is one of the legal elements of a negligence claim.
What Elements Are Required to Prove Negligence?
Winning a personal injury case requires evidence that proves each of the following legal elements:
- Duty – The party you allege caused your injury owed you a duty of care at the time of the injury
- Breach of Duty – The party’s conduct constitutes a breach of the duty of care
- Causation – The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries
- Damages – You sustained actual damages because of the breach of duty and your injuries
The third element is referred to as causation. You must prove that the alleged at-fault party’s actions or omissions “caused” you to be injured or harmed.
Causation for a Personal Injury or Accident
Causation is why something happened. Tort laws require that the defendant’s actions materially contributed to the events that led to your injury.
Most personal injury cases require you to prove causation, including cases involving:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Construction accidents
- Car accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Birth injuries
- Boating accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Wrongful death
- Premises liability
- Product liability
There are two elements of causation – direct cause and proximate cause. You must prove both to win your personal injury case.
What Is Direct Cause?
Direct cause is also referred to as factual cause. It requires you to use the “but for” test to analyze the claim.
The question to answer is, “Would you have been injured had the defendant not engaged in the conduct?” The defendant’s conduct is the direct cause of your injuries if your injury would not have occurred “but for” the actions or omissions of the defendant.
What Is Proximate Cause?
Proximate cause examines the situation to determine if the defendant’s conduct is sufficiently related to your injuries. Generally, this test involves foreseeability.
The defendant must have been able to reasonably foresee that their conduct could result in injury to another person. If the defendant could not reasonably foresee a potential injury, the conduct might not fulfill the “proximate” requirement for causation.
How Do You Prove Causation?
You gather evidence that demonstrates the defendant’s conduct meets both the proximate and direct requirements for causation.
Evidence that is used to support a chain of causation for a personal injury claim often includes:
- Physical evidence gathered from the crash scene or accident site
- Copies of crash reports, police reports, and incident or injury reports
- Statements from the parties involved in the accident
- Testimony from eyewitnesses and expert witnesses
- Photographs or videos of the accident or cause of injury
- Medical records and physician statements
- Reports, research, and other evidence gathered from expert sources
There could be additional sources of evidence to prove causation. Each personal injury case is unique. Your injury lawyer conducts a thorough investigation to gather and preserve evidence.
What Damages Can I Recover for a Personal Injury Claim?
Once you prove that a party is legally liable for your damages, you could recover compensation for your:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Medical bills and expenses
- Personal care costs and nursing care
- Loss of income, benefits, and future earning capacity
- Disfigurement, impairments, and disabilities
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
How much you may receive for your injury claim depends on the facts of your case. Allegations of comparative negligence could significantly reduce how much money you receive for your claim. Contact a lawyer immediately if you are being blamed for an accident or injury that was not your fault.
When Should You See a Lawyer?
The above description of causation is a simple and brief highlight of the main points. Proving causation for an accident can be incredibly complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. Moreover, if you do not know what to search for, you could allow key evidence to be destroyed or lost.
Having a law firm handle the process can save you time, frustration, and money. It may also give you an advantage in your case.
You should not suffer financial hardship because of another party’s wrongdoing and negligence. If you’ve been hurt and some else is responsible, contact a reputable Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.