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06 Sep

How to Prove Causation in a Personal Injury Case

Causation is one of the most vital components of a personal injury case. Without causation, there is no case. And to win a personal injury case, there must be a connection between the damages and injuries that a victim has suffered and the alleged party at fault.

A jury may not award you the compensation that you require if you only prove the negligent actions of the other party. You need to link the accident with your injuries and to the other party’s negligence.

Ways to Prove Causation in a Personal Injury Case

In all personal injury cases, you should prove that a defendant was responsible for injuries in order to recover compensation for the losses. If negligence or intentional act of an individual did not result in the injury, it’s unlikely that they will be held responsible.

From a legal point of view, causation is split into two categories:

  • Cause-in-fact
  • Proximate Cause

You should prove both of these types of causation to receive compensation.

Part One: Cause-in-fact or Actual Cause

Cause-in-fact concerns whether or not an injury would have taken place if not for the conduct of the defendant. Thus, a simple test can easily determine a cause-in-fact or actual cause. This is the “but for” test.

As a legal matter, the “but for” test is relatively straightforward. For a personal injury claim based on negligence, individuals can simply ask themselves the following question to determine the cause-in-fact:

But for the conduct of a defendant, would an injury have occurred?

This question implies whether a defendant’s conduct is the injury’s actual cause. The “but for” can be applied to all situations – regardless of whether they are complex or simple.

For instance, suppose a defendant collides with a vehicle or runs a red light, and you get an injury and thus need medical treatment. In that case, the conduct of the defendant was the cause-in-fact of the injury. But for the defendant’s running through the red light, an injury would not have occurred.

After the actual cause is proven, it's necessary to proceed to a proximate cause.

Part Two: Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is comparatively less simple than cause-in-fact. It involves the determination of what falls within the proximity of causation. In simpler terms, it means how far can causation go?

Proximate cause is concerned with fairness, aiming to limit the liability of the defendant to foreseeable injuries. A proximate cause test will provide a better understanding of this.

This test isn’t as straightforward as the “but for” test. It requires an individual to ask two questions regarding a particular situation or a set of facts. For the above example, the questions will be:

  • Should that driver have reasonably foreseen that his negligence would cause an injury to this particular plaintiff?
  • Should that driver have reasonably foreseen that his negligence would lead to such an injury?

In simpler terms, the defendant will be liable only for foreseeable injuries to a particular individual.

Hence, one must keep these examples and explanations in mind to prove causation in a personal injury case. But they need to note that these issues are pretty complex in nature, so consulting an attorney can prove to be helpful.

At Carrillo Injury Law, we understand what questions to ask in the fight for your rights during a personal injury case. Contact us today at