If you suffer a personal injury that was someone else’s fault, you might have a valid claim for compensation against them. In most personal injury cases, you will have the burden of proof to establish each element of the claim. Causation is one of these elements, and two forms must be proven in the context of a personal injury claim.
What Is Causation in a St. Louis Personal Injury Case?
Causation is a legal element in a negligence or intentional torts claim. Typically, to win a personal injury case, you must prove the elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of Duty
The person who caused your injury must have owed you a duty of care. A duty is an obligation to perform some type of conduct. In many situations, proving breach of duty and causation can be the most complex aspects of a personal injury claim.
Breach of duty is failing to act with a specific level of care. The level of care required in a situation varies, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. For example, a driver breaches the duty of care by running a red light.
However, you must prove causation in addition to breach of duty. It is not sufficient to prove that a driver ran a red light. You must prove the driver “caused” the accident because they ran the red light.
Causation in a personal injury case is the reason something happens. Personal injury cases require you to prove factual cause and proximate cause to hold a party liable for your damages.
What Is Factual Cause for a Missouri Personal Injury Case?
Factual cause is another name for direct cause or actual cause. Factual cause explains why something happened. Jurors use the “but for” test to determine whether you met the level of proof for factual cause.
The “but for” test determines whether something would have happened had it not been for another act. In other words, “this or that” would not have happened “but for” a specific action or inaction.
Let’s return to our example of a driver running a red light. Had it not been for the driver running the red light, the accident would not have occurred, and the person would not have been injured. Therefore, the direct cause of the person’s damages was the other party running the red light.
What Is Proximate Cause for a Missouri Personal Injury Case?
Proximate cause can be more challenging to prove. It has to deal with whether a person could reasonably foresee their actions could result in an injury. In other words, could the other driver reasonably predict or foresee running a red light could lead to an accident and injury?
Generally, a reasonable person could foresee failing to yield the right of way could lead to a car accident. If you convince a jury of this fact, you prove proximate cause.
However, what happens when a reasonable person could not have predicted their actions could injure someone or the conditions were out of their control? Typically, people are not held liable for circumstances they could not control or things they could not reasonably foresee.
What Is the Level of Proof for Causation in a St. Louis Personal Injury Case?
In personal injury cases, the injured party must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. The level of proof is lower than the burden of proof in a criminal case.
In a criminal case, the state must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in a personal injury case, you only need to prove there is more than a 50% chance the defendant caused your injuries.
Evidence used to prove causation in a St. Louis personal injury case could include the following:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Accident and police reports
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Video of the accident as it was happening
- Statements made by the parties to the case
- Reports and opinions from expert witnesses
- Medical records
If you prove your case, you could receive compensatory damages, including economic and non-economic damages. In addition, in very specific situations, a jury could also award punitive damages.
What Is the Deadline for Filing a Claim for Damages in St Louis, MO?
Missouri’s statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is five years from the injury date. However, claims filed against the government must be filed within a short period. There could also be other exceptions to the rule.
Therefore, it is always wise to call our office as soon as possible after an accident for a free case evaluation. Our Missouri personal injury lawyers evaluate your case and determine the filing deadlines for you.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers
The insurance company and the at-fault party often contest causation to avoid liability. Our experienced legal team investigates your claim to gather evidence proving the other party caused your injuries.
Call our law firm at (314) 444-4444 to schedule a free consultation with one of our St. Louis personal injury attorneys. We are here to help you get the money you deserve when another party causes your injury.