What is Causation in a Personal Injury Case?
Brian White | February 6, 2021 | Personal Injury
When you are injured in a Houston accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your damages. For example, if another driver caused a head-on car accident, you could sue the driver for loss of income, medical bills, and other damages. However, before you could recover compensation for your personal injury case, you must prove causation.
Causation and Negligence Claims – How Are They Connected?
Causation is one of the legal elements of a negligence claim. Most personal injury cases are based on negligence, including medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and wrongful death claims. Unless you can prove causation, you cannot hold a party financially liable for damages.
It helps to understand how the elements of a negligence claim work together to build a case against another party for fault and liability.
The elements of a negligence claim are:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty of care
The first element is the duty of care. The person who caused your injury must owe you a duty of care. For example, in a premises liability case, property owners owe a duty of care to visitors and invitees to maintain safe premises.
The second element is a breach of the duty of care. A breach of care means that the person failed to act with reasonable care in fulfilling the duty of care. In the above example, a property owner would breach the duty of care by failing to fix broken steps or failing to warn visitors of the danger.
Causation is the third element of a negligence case. There must be a direct link between the breach of care and the cause of your injuries. A party cannot be held liable for injuries and damages that the party did not cause.
The rider sustained a traumatic brain injury and broken bones during the collision. Had it not been for the actions of the other motorist, the collision would not have occurred. Had the collision not occurred, the rider would not have sustained brain injuries and broken bones.
Therefore, the other motorist’s breach of duty caused the wreck.
What Comes Next After Proving Causation for an Accident?
After proving causation, you need to prove that you sustained damages. A person might breach a duty of care and cause an accident. However, if the accident does not result in damages, the victim cannot demand payment from the at-fault party.
Damages in a personal injury case can include:
- Physical injuries, pain, and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of income and benefits
- Cost of medical bills and expenses
- Cost of personal care and in-home health care
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent impairments, scarring, disabilities, and disfigurement
The value of the personal injury claim depends on the severity of your injuries, your total financial losses, and other facts of the case.
What Should You Do After an Injury?
The steps that you take after being injured in an accident or because of another party’s negligence can help or hurt your personal injury case. Proving causation can be challenging in some cases. Therefore, you do not want to do anything that could jeopardize your claim.
Steps you can take to improve your chance of recovering maximum compensation for your injury claim:
- Report the accident immediately – having an official record of the accident can help establish a breach of the duty of care
- Document the accident scene whenever possible by taking pictures or making a video with your cell phone
- Ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information
- Seek immediate medical treatment – delays in medical care can make it more difficult to prove the accident caused your injuries
- Do not admit fault – if you are partially at fault, you cannot recover full compensation for your damages
- Avoid talking to an insurance adjuster – the adjuster is searching for evidence the company can use to deny or undervalue your injury claim
- Document your economic damages by keeping receipts, bills, invoices, and other evidence that proves your financial losses
- Avoid using social media during your case because investigators and defense attorney may access information that could be viewed negatively by jurors
As soon as possible, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. A lawyer reviews your case and provides an assessment of your legal options, and can also assist in an accident investigation to gather evidence that proves all elements of negligence, including the crucial element of causation.