Causation – Its Legal Concept and Relation to Personal Injury Law

Personal injury is an in-depth realm. Every personal injury case has primarily three elements. These are:

  • Liability: This includes basically how and by whom the accident has occurred. In most cases, the liability concept is pretty straightforward. For example, in a drunk driving accident, the driver who is drunk is almost always at fault. Liability is easily established in this case with the drunk driver at fault. On the other hand, some cases are different and demand the presence of experts to determine the rightful liability. These people are experts in crime/accident scene investigation and their job is to find out which party is at fault.
  • Damages/Injuries: The injuries emerging from a car accident or other accident are to be scrutinized in detail. Is it a serious injury or just a minor bruise or soft tissue injury? Head injuries are severe while minor leg injuries are treated differently. Similarly, multiple orthopedic injuries may warrant a different procedure. This is the visual part of the personal injury claim and can be easily assessed in most cases.
  • Causation: The case has to establish some sort of connection between the accident’s victim and the party at fault. Often termed as “proximate cause” or “remoteness of damage”, it is a crucial part of the personal injury case. It has to be understood that in almost every case, this is the part most difficult to establish.

Proof of Causation

Sometimes, it is easy to prove causation. For example, if someone broke their leg in a car accident, the relationship can be easily established. Here, the person will seek the compensation as a result of the car accident disrupting her bodily function, mainly walking and use of her leg.

But on the other hand, if someone slips and gets hit on the head, is complaining of stomach ache, shortness of breath or disruption in movements, the causation isn’t that simple. If someone faces depression as a result of an accident, the causation becomes complex. Similarly, if someone lived in an apartment filled with mold and got severe cough/asthma, later moved out of it and still has asthma problems,  they have to approach causation differently.

The Law of Causation is a highly debated field in the legal field. It often creates confusion in personal injury cases.

One common confusion occurs when the factual question arises asking for the relationship between the plaintiff’s injury to be proven to be caused by the defendant’s negligence and is generally an effect of an objective or scientific standards. Here, if no relationship exists, the case has come to an end for the Plaintiff. Here, the defendant has not caused the loss and it has occurred as a result of the scientific/objective cause. Therefore, under no circumstance can the defendant  be liable to pay damages.

Hard evidence is what sways the decision in the end.  A Plaintiff’s plea or claim is not enough to warrant compensation from the defendant. It is important to prove that scientific/objective standards have no relation with respect to the injury occurred. This can be done with the help of experts.

An expert can help establish the hard facts that the defendant’s lapse or negligence actually caused the injury. The scientific/objective proof, is in fact, valid but not in this case. Here, the insurer, judge and opposing party have to be convinced that the defendant’s breach of duty cased the harm.