Anderson Injury Lawyers | December 19, 2023 | Personal Injury
When someone is injured, they often suffer compensable damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and damage to their vehicle. However, before they can recover this compensation, they must prove they are legally entitled to it. Proximate cause helps establish this link.
Without showing proximate cause, you cannot recover compensation for your injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your case and explain whether you can establish proximate cause.
What Is Proximate Cause?
Proximate cause is one of the necessary elements you must establish in a personal injury claim. It is the direct and legal cause of an accident. When you have established proximate cause, the factfinder can accept that the defendant is legally responsible for causing the incident.
For something to be the proximate cause, it must be found to be a substantial factor in contributing to the accident that caused the victim’s injuries. Some jurisdictions use the “foreseeability” test to establish proximate causation. Proximate cause is established when the victim shows the injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions.
How Does Proximate Cause Affect Your Case?
Proximate cause is one of the necessary elements of establishing negligence. If you cannot show the defendant is legally responsible for your injury, you cannot recover compensation for it from the defendant. Proximate cause applies in insurance claims, as well as in personal injury lawsuits.
If your case goes to court, you must be able to prove proximate cause by a preponderance of the evidence. This means your claim is more likely than not, as you allege.
Examples of Proximate Cause
Proximate cause can apply to various types of personal injury incidents. Let’s look at an example of a car accident. You are sitting at a stop sign when you are suddenly hit by another vehicle behind you. After an investigation, it is determined the rear-end collision was due to the rear driver texting and driving. The driver was looking down at their phone and didn’t notice you stopping, so they hit you. The rear driver is found to be the legal cause of the accident, and your injuries were a reasonably foreseeable consequence of their texting and driving.
Proximate cause applies in cases other than motor vehicle accidents, including the following examples:
- The maker of defective products is the proximate cause of injuries caused by those products
- A trucking company’s negligence is the proximate cause of a truck accident
- A property owner’s failure to inspect the premises is the proximate cause of a slip and fall
- A healthcare provider’s deviation from the standard of care is the proximate cause in a medical malpractice case
- An employer’s negligent hiring is the proximate cause of an accident
It can be difficult to prove proximate cause.
How to Prove Proximate Cause
In some cases, causation may be obvious. But in many others, it is not. You and your lawyer will need to show that the defendant’s actions or inactions were the direct and legal cause of your injuries.
Proving proximate cause may require evidence such as:
- Your statements and those of the defendant
- Accident and police reports
- Personnel records regarding an employee’s background, training, and previous incidents
- Reports from experts in medical, engineering, accident reconstruction, and other relevant fields
- Log books and other records truck drivers keep
- Maintenance records that show when a property was inspected or a vehicle was maintained
- Photos or videos of the accident
- The location of damage on vehicles
- Traffic laws and other relevant laws
- Event data recorder information that records the vehicle’s speed, braking patterns, and other information immediately before an accident
Personal injury lawyers can work to obtain solid evidence of this nature to prove proximate cause and other elements of the claim.
Difficulty of Establishing Proximate Cause
One of the difficulties of establishing a proximate cause is that various factors can be involved in any particular personal injury. For example, weather can play a part in many accidents. The actions of other parties may influence the accident. The victim’s own negligence can contribute to the accident.
The question becomes whether there is any event that happened between the defendant’s negligent actions and the injuries that broke the chain reaction of events.
What Else Do You Have to Prove to Win Your Personal Injury Case?
Proximate cause is only one of the elements you must be able to prove in a personal injury case. You must be able to prove the following:
The first element you must prove is that the defendant had a legal duty to act or refrain from acting in a certain way. For example, all motorists have a legal duty to follow the law and to drive safely to prevent accidents with others. Trucking companies have a legal duty to follow local, state, and federal regulations that pertain to them.
Breach of Duty
Next, you must establish the defendant breached the legal duty they owed you. For example, a motorist may have sped, ran a red light, or drank while behind the wheel, violating their duty to follow the law. A trucking company could have negligently hired a driver with a known safety risk. You must show that this breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident that injured you.
Finally, you must show that you were harmed somehow because of the accident. For example, you may have incurred medical bills. You might have lost wages. Your long-term earning capacity could have been reduced because of the injuries.
Your lawyer can help establish all of these legal elements.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Texas
If you were injured in an incident you believe was caused by someone else’s negligence, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help. A lawyer can review your case, gather evidence to establish a proximate cause, and negotiate aggressively for full compensation.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth or Dallas and need legal help, contact our personal injury lawyers at Anderson Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve Tarrant County, Dallas County, and throughout Texas.