In order to prove a defendant caused a plaintiff’s damages in Court, an element of negligence is required. In personal injury law, the plaintiff (the person claiming to be injured) and their legal representation must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- The Defendant (the person or legal entity alleged to have caused the injury) owed the plaintiff a duty of care in law.
- The Defendant breached the prescribed standard of care.
- This breach caused the Plaintiff’s damages.
The Law of Causation in Action
What does this look like in an accident injury case?
Let’s say a Plaintiff was injured in a car accident caused by the Defendant’s distracted driving. By default, the Defendant owes the Plaintiff a duty of care; for that matter, all motorists owe the same duty of care by following the rules of the road to prevent accidents and injuries to other people. Next, the Plaintiff has to prove that a breach of the duty of care occurred. Luckily for our Plaintiff, the Defendant admitted to using their phone while driving at the time of the accident. Now, all that’s left is to prove that the breach of the duty of care caused the Plaintiff’s damages.
In many cases, the “but for” test is used to determine causation in accident injury law. In this example, the Plaintiff’s lawyers would ask “‘but for’ the accident, would the Plaintiff have suffered their injuries?” Since the answer is obviously “no,” causation has been successfully established, meaning the Plaintiff is able to seek compensation for their damages.
Get Experience On Your Side
Unfortunately, very few accident injury cases are as simple as the example above.
In some cases, a Plaintiff may be able to prove that some defendant’s wrong caused their damages, but not which defendant. In others, the probability that a defendant’s wrong has caused damages is ruled to be less than would be required to satisfy the “but for” test. There are also cases where the defendant’s actions are sufficient to have caused damages, but weren’t strictly necessary for the Plaintiff to sustain damages.
As you can see, accident injury law can be complicated and confusing! That’s why it’s important to contact an experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. The sooner you reach out for support, the sooner your lawyer can begin understanding your case and help you secure complete, fair compensation for your injuries.