Personal injury lawsuits are complex legal proceedings, typically with a goal of proving who was responsible for sustained injuries. Proof of responsibility lies in determining and showing negligence, which is often a difficult process. Personal injury attorneys look closely at causation, and whether it was cause in fact and foreseeable. Both of these different elements must be demonstrated, along with duty, breach of duty, and damages causation before negligence can be clearly identified.
What is Cause in Fact?
The term ’cause in fact’ is a statement that refers to one party being injured by the direct actions of another party. If the potentially negligent party had not done what they did, the injured party would not have been injured. Personal injury attorneys refer to this as the “but for” clause, meaning that “but for the action in question done by the defendant, the plaintiff would not have become injured.”
To qualify as cause in fact, the other person’s injuries must have been caused solely by the actions of the defendant. An auto accident directly injuring a person is a good example of cause in fact, as the driver of one car hit another car, causing injuries to other people in the second car.
What is Foreseeability?
Foreseeability requires that experienced personal injury attorneys relate injuries received by a plaintiff by placing fault with something that “foreseeably” was the cause of an injury. This means that a person of ordinary intelligence should have anticipated the danger created by the negligent act or omission.
An example that could be used by personal injury attorneys would be a driver who causes an auto accident, hits a light pole, and knocks it over, injuring a nearby person. The driver did not directly hit the injured party; however, the pole that was knocked over by the driver did cause the injury. Someone in the immediate proximity who is injured by or because of events resulting from the actions of the negligent party is considered to be one that might reasonably have been foreseen.
The Challenges of Proving Causation
The burden of proof in any personal injury lawsuit rests with the plaintiff, which often requires the expertise of personal injury attorneys if the individual circumstances are not clearly evident. For many jurors, the concept of proximate cause is hard to understand and evaluate – which leaves a lot of room for interesting plaintiff and defense arguments on each side of the issue.
Many questions arise when determining proximate cause, such as: were there additional reasons for injuries; did the injured party put themselves at risk; or did the claimed injury solely or partially result from the incident in question. Personal injury attorneys indicate that risk becomes an important factor in determining cause, which may not make the determination of fault a straightforward decision. Many things must be considered, such as the injured party’s exposure to risk and if certain risks were avoidable.
Because determining cause and negligence as well as assigning fault is an involved and complicated process, anyone who has sustained injuries thought to be caused by someone else should discuss the matter with experienced personal injury attorneys. They have the education and experience to understand and evaluate all of the nuances involved in determining fault and negligence – and are prepared to help a person injured by the actions of another party seek just compensation.
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