If you’ve been injured in an accident in the state of Texas, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. However, for your lawsuit to succeed, you must prove that the other party was both the actual and proximate cause of your injuries. In this article, we discuss the legal concept of causation and how it relates to personal injury cases in the state of Texas.
The legal definition of causation is the relationship between one party’s injury-causing conduct and the damages the other party claims in a personal injury lawsuit. Causation is a critical element that a plaintiff must demonstrate to prove negligence in a personal injury case.
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Most personal injury lawsuits are based on a theory of negligence, including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall accidents, and wrongful death claims. The elements of a negligence claim are:
A plaintiff who sues a defendant on a theory of negligence must prove each of the above elements. As noted above, causation is one element of a negligence claim. Therefore, if a plaintiff cannot prove causation in a personal injury lawsuit, then they cannot succeed under a theory of negligence.
Texas courts break down causation into two categories: actual cause and proximate cause. A plaintiff must prove both types of causation to win their case. The first type of causation, called actual cause, is the easiest to prove, as it looks at whether a defendant’s actions actually caused a plaintiff’s injuries.
The second type of cause, called proximate cause, is usually more complicated to prove. In determining the proximate cause, courts consider the events leading up to the plaintiff’s injury. The defendant’s conduct is the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries if the injuries were reasonably foreseeable.
As noted above, proving actual cause is usually easier than proving proximate cause. However, even actual cause isn’t always clear-cut. Therefore, courts apply different tests when determining actual cause in personal injury lawsuits. Two common tests to determine actual cause are the but-for test and the substantial factor test.
Many states use the but-for test to determine the actual cause. When applying the but-for test, courts attempt to determine whether the plaintiff would have been injured but for the defendant’s actions or inactions. For example, suppose the defendant in a personal injury case drives through a red light and strikes the plaintiff’s car, causing the plaintiff to suffer whiplash. In this case, but for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff would not have suffered whiplash.
Although this is a simple example, it’s easy to see how complex such situations can become, especially when a case involves a long string of events and multiple parties.
The substantial factor test attempts to determine whether the defendant’s actions or inactions played a substantial role in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Under this approach, failures to act or trivial actions may not be enough to establish actual causation. Using the example above, it’s clear that the defendant’s action of running a red light was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s whiplash. However, this analysis could become more complicated if evidence was presented that the plaintiff took an action that contributed to their own injury.
As discussed above, most personal injury lawsuits in the state of Texas require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s actions were both the actual and proximate cause of the damages claimed. To prove proximate cause, the plaintiff’s attorney must establish through a preponderance of the evidence that the actions of the defendant started a chain of events that reasonably and foreseeably would have caused the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Common types of evidence that attorneys use to prove proximate cause include videos, photographs, medical records, police reports, witness accounts, expert testimony, and crash reconstruction.
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If you’ve been injured in an accident in Texas, you need an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer on your side. At FVF Law, we understand how stressful and confusing a serious injury can be.
Whether you were injured at work, in a car accident, or in some other type of accident, we are here to help you recover financial compensation for your injuries. We handle our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you owe us nothing unless your case is successful. If you are ready to begin your road to recovery, please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation at (512) 982-9328.
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