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Proximate Cause: Proving Your Personal Injury Case

Posted by Quinn Posner | Oct 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Proving your personal injury case requires not only providing evidence to the court but also proving that another person is the actual or "proximate" cause of your injuries. Proving causation is an important part of every personal injury case. The connection between another person's negligent actions and your injuries will help you to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation.

With the help of an experienced Washington personal injury attorney, you can effectively prove that another driver's negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries.

What is Legal Causation?

A plaintiff in a personal injury action must prove that the defendant was the cause of his or her injuries. Proving this is known as showing "legal causation." Legal causation is an important and necessary part of every lawsuit based on personal injury and negligence.

Under the common law, there are two forms of legal causation: cause in fact and proximate cause.

Cause in Fact

An action or inaction by a defendant is the "cause in fact" of a person's injuries when it is the actual and direct reason that a person was injured. This can be proven by showing that a defendant's action or inaction was necessary to create the accident.

Cause, in fact, is also commonly referred to as "but for" causation. If the plaintiff would not have been injured "but for" the defendant's conduct, then the defendant is the cause of the plaintiff's injuries.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause refers to the foreseeability of harm that could arise from a certain action. This means that if the type of harm caused could have reasonably been foreseen by the defendant, then that action may be the proximate cause of the injury.

The State of Washington defines proximate cause in another, related way. It states:

The term “proximate cause” means a cause which in a direct sequence [unbroken by any superseding cause,] produces the [injury] [event] complained of and without which such [injury] [event] would not have happened.

This is the standard instruction that a Washington jury will hear from the judge in a personal injury case. It uses the "substantial factor" test, meaning that if the defendant's conduct was a major contributing factor to the harm the defendant can be liable for the plaintiff's injuries.

Superseding Cause

The term "superseding cause" means another intervening action which breaks the chain of causation. This means that while one person's action may have contributed to the harm, another action can intervene which is the proximate cause of the injury.

This is especially important in multiple vehicle accidents, as one person's action may have started a chain reaction, but possibly another person's negligence was the actual and proximate cause of the injuries.

Consult a Washington Personal Injury Attorney

Proving a personal injury case and that another person's negligence was the cause of your injuries can be complicated. With the right legal representation, you can move forward with confidence that your case can be proven and you receive the financial compensation you deserve.

Experienced personal injury attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author

Quinn Posner

Location: Vancouver, Washington Phone: 360-524-4767 Fax: 360.326.1913 As a former Clark County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and in-house insurance defense attorney for a large international insurance company, litigation is my passion. That is why I have chosen personal injury and eviction law to focus my practice on.


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