Causation is one of the four elements needed to prove negligence in a legal case. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions caused the damages they are claiming.
Premises liability claims, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice claims, and most other personal injury claims are based on negligence. A person is negligent when they fail to act with reasonable care, and their conduct results in an injury to another person.
However, one of the four elements of negligence is causation. If you cannot prove causation, you cannot hold the at-fault party legally liable for your damages. Unfortunately, causation in personal injury cases can be one of the most challenging elements to prove.
What Are the Elements of a Negligence Claim?
The elements of a negligence claim link together to form a chain of causation. Each element links together to prove that the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injury. If you cannot prove each element, you lose your case.
The elements of negligence are:
- Duty of care;
- Breach of the duty of care;
- Causation; and
A duty of care exists because of a legal, personal, or moral commitment. Breaching the duty of care means failing to act with reasonable care. Reasonable care is the level of care used by a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstances.
For example, motorists have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and obey traffic laws. If a driver runs a red light and causes a car accident, the driver breached the duty of care owed to other drivers. The driver can be held liable for the accident victim’s damages, but first, the victim must prove causation.
What is Causation in a Personal Injury Case?
Cause is the reason an event happens. The injured person has the burden of proving that the defendant’s conduct was a direct and proximate cause of the accident or incident that resulted in their injuries.
Personal injury is based on tort law. A tort is an act or omission that causes harm to another person. In our example above, the victim must prove that running the red light caused the car crash.
Direct Causation vs. Proximate Causation in a Personal Injury Claim
Direct or factual causation is the “but for” test in a personal injury case. The plaintiff would not have been injured “but for” the defendant’s actions. In our example, the plaintiff would not have been injured or needed medical treatment had the defendant not run the red light.
The proximate cause test deals with foreseeability. The defendant does not need to have set out to hurt the plaintiff intentionally. However, the defendant must have seen the potential for injury as a foreseeable result of their conduct. For example, one can reasonably foresee that they could cause an accident if they run a red light.
If the defendant could not have reasonably foreseen that his actions could put another person at risk of harm, the plaintiff may not be able to prove causation. Defendants are generally not held liable for substantial factors they could not control or foresee.
Proving Causation Can Be Complicated
Proving that the defendant’s actions caused your injury could be complicated. A personal injury lawyer will investigate the cause of your injury to gather evidence that proves a breach of duty and causation.
Examples of evidence that could help prove that the defendant’s conduct directly led to your injuries include:
- Statements from eyewitnesses and parties to the accident
- Copies of accident and police reports
- Statements from ambulance personnel
- Videos of the collision from dashcams, traffic cameras, and surveillance cameras
- Forensic evidence
- Physical evidence from the accident scene and the vehicles
- Onboard data recorders for each vehicle
- Testimony, research, and opinions of expert witnesses
- Videos and photographs of the accident scene
- Copies of medical records and statements from medical experts
Causation is the third element of a negligence claim. However, you must also prove damages. Damages for a personal injury case may include economic and non-economic damages.
How Much is My Injury Claim Worth?
The value of your case depends upon the facts of the case and the severity of your injuries.
In most personal injury cases, injured parties can receive compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Medical bills and expenses
- Permanent disabilities and impairment
- Loss of income and benefits
- Mental and emotional distress
- Reduction in future earning potential and future lost wages
- Reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
If you were partially to blame for the cause of the accident, your compensation could be reduced under Florida’s pure comparative negligence laws. The insurance company for the at-fault party will do everything it can to limit liability for the claim. That includes shifting blame to you for causing your injury.
Working with a personal injury lawyer to gather evidence of fault and document damages can be the best way to protect your legal rights. Unfortunately, the insurance company is working against you. You need someone on your side who can fight back to get you the money you deserve and are entitled to receive after being injured by another party.
Contact a Miami Personal Injury Attorney for Help With a Negligence Claim
You deserve fair compensation for injuries and damages caused by another person. Negligence can be difficult to prove, particularly the element of causation. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Miami to discuss your case and determine your legal options.