Causation is a critical element of personal injury cases. This legal term refers to the link between a liable party’s negligent behavior and the accident that causes someone’s injuries. In most cases, you won’t receive compensation if you cannot prove causation. For this reason, you must prepare to prove causation if you want to receive a settlement offer.
Proving Causation in a Personal Injury Case
Proving causation involves establishing the four elements of negligence. These are those four elements, using a car accident case as an example:
- The liable party owed you a “duty of care”: In this example, a negligent driver on the road caused the accident. All drivers are responsible for keeping other roads safe from harm. This responsibility is known as a duty of care.
- The liable party failed to uphold this duty: Before causing the accident, the liable driver started to drive over the speed limit. Speeding is negligent behavior that can endanger other drivers. Therefore, the driver failed to uphold their duty of care.
- This negligence caused your accident: This step involves causation. You or your legal team will use evidence to show that your accident was caused because the other driver was speeding.
- You suffered damages: Your medical records must show you sustained injuries from the accident. The liable driver may be responsible for compensating you because they caused the accident.
In this example, causation shows that another party was responsible for causing your accident. This is the basis of personal injury cases. You’re seeking compensation because someone else’s negligent behavior harmed you.
Gathering Evidence in an Injury Case
You must gather evidence before you can prove causation, however. Let’s continue with the car accident example. These are a few common types of evidence in a car accident case:
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Your medical records
- Expert witness testimonies
- Traffic camera footage of the accident
- Images from the crash scene
This evidence can provide a clearer picture of the accident. For example, a segment of traffic camera footage could show that the liable driver was speeding before the accident. You can also turn to witness statements. A bystander may have seen the events leading up to the accident.
Expert input refers to expert witnesses. These experts can be doctors, crash reconstruction specialists, or economists. A law firm can hire an expert to provide insight into a personal injury case. It may be difficult to hire and work with an expert without the assistance of a law firm.
Medical Records Are Essential
Proving causation is important to every personal injury case. However, you also must show you suffered damages because of your accident. Typically, the primary damage in these cases is your injuries. To prove you suffered an injury, you usually need to see a doctor. Speaking with a doctor after an accident:
- Provides evidence of your injuries
- Helps your lawyer in evaluating your injuring
- Shows to insurers that you’re injured
Pay close attention to your doctor’s advice after your initial appointment. Neglecting treatment may indicate to insurers or the responsible party that your injuries aren’t severe.
What Comes After Proving Causation?
Proving causation paves the way to pursuing a settlement. For example, during a personal injury case, you can typically pursue a settlement in one of two ways:
- A lawsuit: Lawsuits are a type of legal action. They involve suing an at-fault or liable party for a damages award. You can usually receive a settlement if you can show a judge or jury that someone else caused your injuries. Remember, just because you file a lawsuit doesn’t mean you need to go to court. Many lawsuits settle outside of court before trial.
- An insurance claim: Businesses, drivers, and large organizations typically carry liability insurance. If any of these organizations harmed you, you can usually file an insurance claim with their insurer. This approach is common after car accidents.
Settlements and Civil Trials
A personal injury lawyer can advise you on which approach makes the most sense. Insurance claims and out-of-court settlements are more common than civil trials. Insurers and lawyers tend to avoid trial whenever possible for these reasons:
- They’re typically time-consuming.
- They can be adversarial.
- They can be more expensive than other legal options.
Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases
A range of damages is available to victims in personal injury cases, including:
- Medical expenses
- Property damages
- “Pain and suffering”
- Lost income and benefits
- Reduced earning capacity
- Ongoing care costs, like physical therapy
These damages are detailed throughout Title 8.01 of Virginia’s Legal Code. They may differ depending on the case you’re pursuing. Our attorneys can help you determine what damages apply to your case in a FREE claim review. . If you’re filing legal action on behalf of a lost loved one, you may qualify for additional damages.
How to Get Started With Your Claim or Case
Our team represents clients across a wide range of personal injury cases, including dog bites, car accidents, and product liability. Jim Parrish, our lead attorney, previously worked as a representative for insurers. This experience means he’s familiar with the inner workings of insurance companies.
If you believe you were harmed by the negligence of another party, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC, today. We can offer you a free case evaluation. During this initial meeting, we can determine your case eligibility.