You need causation to prove just about any personal injury claim you might assert. It seems pretty simple – my car hit your car, which caused you to go to the hospital. But like many legal issues, causation is more complicated than it might appear at first glance.

The Elements of a Successful Negligence Claim

Negligence is not the only type of claim for which you must prove causation. It is, however, the most common type of personal injury claim. To establish negligence, you must prove the following four elements:

To win, you must prove all four of these elements by “a preponderance of the evidence.” That means you must prove each element on a “more likely than not” basis. There are two forms of causation: factual cause and proximate cause.

Let’s give an example of each of these elements:

Bill can win compensation from Margaret if he proves all four of the foregoing elements of negligence. 

The Two Forms of Causation

Colorado personal injury law recognizes two distinct forms of causation: actual cause and proximate cause.

Actual Cause

A is the actual cause of B, if B would not have happened except for A. That is why some people refer to actual cause as “but-for” causation. 

In most cases, proving actual cause is fairly straightforward. Margaret actually caused Bill’s injury by driving the wrong way on a one-way street, for example.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is a less obvious form of causation. X is the proximate cause of Y If a reasonable person would have foreseen that if X happened, Y would likely happen as a consequence. In other words, proximate cause is based upon foreseeability.

Example of Proximate Cause

Two railroad employees push a man into a departing train, causing the man to drop his package. The package contains fireworks, which explode. The explosion injures a woman standing some distance away.  

The woman sued the railroad based on the negligent actions of the two railroad employees. The court found that the relationship between the negligence of the railroad employees and the explosion that injured the woman was too attenuated to meet the proximate cause requirement of negligence law.  

This case, Palsgraf vs. Long Island Railroad, actually happened in New York State. It is the basis of the modern concept of proximate cause nationwide.

Causation in Settlement Negotiations

Some causation issues result in negotiation deadlock. If that happens, you might need to file a lawsuit just to gain access to the pretrial discovery evidence-gathering process.

Talk to an Experienced Lakewood Personal Injury Lawyer To Discuss Your Options

Causation is one of those legal issues that can fly right underneath your radar. In fact, you might not realize that your case has a causation problem until you speak to a lawyer.  

A trusted Lakewood lawyer at Matos Personal Injury Lawyers will probably recognize the problem and prepare a way of dealing with it. Schedule a free initial consultation as soon as you can at (720) 912 7274.