Causation in A Personal Injury Claim

Causation, A Principle Element in A Personal Injury Claim

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If you looked at the introduction video to understand that for a personal injury claim you need to show injury, breach of duty, or fault. You also need to show causation.

In this video we additionally discuss causation. In the introduction video I pointed out it must be shown the personal injuries were cause by the person at fault. This seems self evident. Yet, circumstances arise in which insurance companies or juries may question whether the guy at fault actually caused the personal injuries.

The introduction video and discuss the case of Alex crashing into the car being driven by Betty. Betty suffered fractured ribs. Six months later she developed a breathing disorder. Betty sued Alex for her personal injuries. She argued Alex was also responsible for the breathing disorder she developed 6 months after. Alex argued he was not responsible since the breathing disorder was caused by a virus. Betty argued the fractured ribs caused by Alex decreased her ability to breath and that is why she came down with the breathing disorder. Therefore he caused it.

So how will this case end. It will be dependent on expert testimony. The insurance company will probably refuse to settle the case. Each side, lawyers for Betty, and the defense lawyers for Alex will hire a medical experts. At the end of the day the jury will need to weigh the testimony of the experts and decide whether or not to hold Alex responsible for the breathing disorder personal injury.


In personal injury cases the issues of causation usually are decided by medical testimony. There are often questions as to whether specific personal injuries such as torn ligaments in the knee were caused by the crash. If someone was suffering any form of back pain before the crash many insurance companies will argue that the herniated, or slipped, disk in the back existed before the crash.

There are also instances in which the and disputed facts will raise issues as to whether or not the breach of duty, or fault, was responsible for the specific personal injury. As an example, Albert crashes his car into a car driven by Bob. Bob jumps out of the car and the oil and water on the pavement cause him to fall and break his leg. The question is whether the crash caused the broken leg. Bob Albert’s fault the crash took place and the reason his car wound up where it did. As a result, bob argues, Albert caused the circumstances which produced the broken leg. Albert argues it was the oil and water which caused the fall and the crash had nothing to do with it. Bob argues but for the crash he would not have gotten out of his car. Therefore the crash caused the fall.


Cases like this are generally decided by the proximity between the personal injury and the circumstances created by the fault, or breach of duty. If Bob stepped out of his car directly onto slippery pavement there is a close proximity between the crash and the personal injury. If, however, Bob walked 10 to 12 feet before he stepped on the slippery surface there is less relationship between the broken leg and the crash. At the end of the day questions like this are going to be decided by a jury. One of the things the jury may consider is whether it is foreseeable the personal injury would be caused by the breach of duty. As a result of the crash was it anticipated someone would get out of their car. Generally it is. Is it reasonably foreseeable someone getting out of their car could step onto a slippery surface. Generally it is. Is it foreseeable someone would walk 10 to 12 feet after getting out of their car and step onto a slippery surface. It is possible, but is not completely foreseeable.

Questions like this can be of reasonably difficult. Opinions can differ. When confronting them lawyers will many times to see if they can find similar personal injury cases and will look to these cases to help indicate how the decision should be made. An experienced lawyer can be a real help in dealing with personal injury cases like this.

I’m David Allen, personal injury attorney at David Allen & Associates.

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