Determining Causation in Personal Injury Cases

Slip and fall accident report

Who Caused The Personal Injury?

Personal injuries affect a person’s body or emotions due to negligence from another party. These injuries can arise in various ways or situations, ranging from a slip and fall to product liability and chemical exposure, which makes this area of law very complicated.

Personal injuries can arise in various ways or situations, ranging from a slip and fall to product liability and chemical exposure, which makes this area of law very complicated.

What is Negligence?

Negligence occurs when somebody does not carry out specific standards of conduct. For instance, when somebody does something that a rationally careful person would not do, causing loss or harm to another person. When someone breaches these standards, the law expects that person to issue compensation to the plaintiff. There are four essential elements of a legal claim and are crucial in demonstrating negligence. A plaintiff should verify the following to establish negligence:
● Duty breach
● Damages
● Causation
● Duty of care

What is Causation?

One of the most significant elements of negligence is causation. Causation is something that generates a result or effect, and it comprises of two components:
● Actual causation
● Proximate causation

Negligence definition, important for legal malpractice case

How To Prove Causation

A challenging facet of a personal injury claim is demonstrating causation. To prove negligence in court, the plaintiff needs to show the other party’s breach of duty was both the actual and proximate cause of their injuries.

Actual cause

The defendant’s breach caused the loss and injury. Meaning, if the defendant’s actions would not have happened, the injury would not have happened, either. To prove actual cause, you will need to demonstrate that the defendant’s action was responsible for your injuries.

Proximate cause

The loss and injury weren’t too remote or unforeseeable. If the ensuing harm was too distant or an unforeseeable outcome of the negligent act, you are unlikely to succeed in a compensation claim. The notions of remoteness and foreseeability offer the necessary controls to ensure frivolous lawsuits are futile.

Proximate cause exists if you had foreseeable injuries. That is, the defendant must have reasonably expected that his conduct would cause your injuries. For instance, somebody should reasonably predict that drunk driving could lead to a serious vehicle accident. However, defendants are not typically responsible for unpredictable injuries or cannot be reasonably associated with their conduct.

Example of Causation

A homeowner forgets to close the gate adjoining the backyard pool. A child happens to open the gate, falls into the pool, and consequently drowns. In this instance, the negligent act caused the mishap; therefore, the establishment of causation is possible.

However, if the child climbed over the fence and drowned as a result, the homeowner wouldn’t be liable, even if the gate was left open. Although both instances show negligence, in the second instance, it wasn’t the cause of the accident. That is, the accident would still have taken place even if the homeowner had locked the gate.


In a personal injury claim, you must demonstrate negligence on the defendant’s part. Causation is a significant component of a negligence claim wherein you will need to prove that the defendant’s misconduct or actions caused your injuries. Remember, causation can be difficult to prove unless you have a proficient lawyer on your side.

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