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An Introduction to Personal Injury Litigation–Causation

an-introduction-to-personal-injury-litigation-causationIn this series, we’re looking at what you must prove in court to successfully prosecute a personal injury claim based on a legal theory of negligence. In our first blog, we considered the standard of care in a personal injury claim. In our next blog, we’ll look at what constitutes “actual loss.” This blog examines the causal connection between the careless act of the defendant and any damages incurred.

Under the law as it has developed, you must prove two different types of causation to demonstrate negligence—actual, or but for, cause; and proximate cause.

Actual Cause

First, you must show that, had the defendant not breached the duty to act as a reasonable person, the accident would not have happened. In instances where there’s only a single cause, this is typically a simple process—either the defendant’s negligence caused the accident or it didn’t. But the matter can get pretty complicated when there are multiple defendants, or when the injured party contributes in some manner to the cause of the accident. Suppose you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, and it can be proven that, had the defendant not been speeding, he would have been able to stop in time to avoid hitting your car. If the defendant can show that you failed to stop at a traffic light or sign, there can be issues of actual cause.

Proximate Cause

Even if you can show actual cause, you cannot recover damages unless you can also demonstrate proximate cause. This requires that you prove that the damages you suffered were “reasonably foreseeable” based on the negligence of the defendant. It’s referred to as proximate cause because the injuries you suffer must be “proximate,” or close, to the wrongful conduct. You can’t be held responsible for any loss that can conceivably be tied to your negligence. For example, if you run a stop sign and hit another car, it’s reasonably foreseeable that there will be property damage, as well as personal injury to anyone in the car. However, if you cause the other car to careen into a building, which starts a fire, it may not be reasonably foreseeable that five buildings and their contents will be lost because you ran a stop sign.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment.

We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. We won’t charge any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.

Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We’ll come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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