What Is Causation?

Cause refers to a reason why something happens. It is the reason why a car accident occurs or a person falls down the stairs, for example. Causation is the third legal element in a negligence claim. You must prove causation to win a personal injury case in Illinois.

Causation as a Legal Element of a Personal Injury Claim

Most personal injury cases are based on negligence. A party is negligent when they fail to take reasonable steps to avoid causing harm or injury. If you are injured in an accident or because of another party’s intentional acts or wrongdoing, you must prove the following:

  • Duty – The party you accuse of injuring you owed you a legal duty of care.
  • Breach of Duty – The party breached the legal duty of care through their acts or omissions.
  • Causation – The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury.
  • Damages – You sustained damages because of the incident. Damages in a personal injury case can include non-economic damages (pain and suffering) and economic damages (monetary losses).

Illinois personal injury laws require that you prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. The jurors must believe that the evidence you present proves that it is more likely than not that the party caused your injury.

Sometimes, proving causation can be the most challenging element of a personal injury case. You have medical records proving you were injured and evidence proving your losses. However, you must prove the party “caused” your injuries to recover money for your claim.

The law requires you to prove direct and proximate cause for your claim. The jurors might not believe the other party caused your injuries without both elements.

What Is the Direct Cause of a Personal Injury?

Direct causation is straightforward. It is often called “cause in fact.”

You would not have been injured “but for” the defendant’s actions (at-fault party). In other words, “this” would not have happened had “that” not occurred.

For example, “this” could be an auto accident, slip and fall, pedestrian accident, or motorcycle crash. 

The “that” is the person’s actions. For example, a person runs a red light. If the person had not run the red light, they would not have hit your car, causing a traffic accident.

What Is the Proximate Cause of a Personal Injury?

The proximate cause can be more difficult to prove. It deals with the relationship of a specific event to an injury. 

The test for proximate cause is foreseeability. Could a reasonable person predict or foresee that an injury could occur from an action? For example, could a reasonable person foresee running a red light could cause a car accident? Probably so.

What Types of Evidence Can You Use To Prove Causation for a Chicago Personal Injury Claim?

Evidence can include physical evidence from the accident scene. It also includes documentary evidence and testimony. Other evidence could be used depending on the facts of the case.

Examples of evidence in personal injury cases include, but are not limited to:

  • Statements and testimony from the parties involved in the incident
  • Photographs and videos of the accident or accident scene
  • Physical evidence from an accident scene
  • Testimony from eyewitnesses
  • Medical records proving injuries
  • Research, reports, and opinions from expert witnesses, including engineers, accident reconstructionists, or medical specialists
  • Copies of medical records, accident reports, and police reports
  • Employment records to prove loss of income

If you are injured in an accident, try to gather evidence by taking photographs and making a site of the accident scene. Also, ask bystanders for their names and contact information. Your personal injury lawyer conducts a thorough investigation to gather evidence proving causation.

What Damages Are Available for a Personal Injury Case?

If you prove the legal elements for a personal injury claim, you can demand financial compensation for your damages. Economic damages could include:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Lost wages, benefits, and other income
  • Medical bills 
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Decrease in future earning capacity
  • Help with household tasks and personal care
  • Property damage

Injured victims can also recover damages for their pain and suffering. Non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Impairments and disabilities

How much your claim is worth depends on your injuries. It also depends on the strength of your evidence. 

When you have solid evidence proving your case, you have a stronger negotiating position. Hiring experienced accident attorneys who understand how to prove causation can give you another advantage at the negotiating table.

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers

When another person causes your injury, you deserve fair compensation for damages. Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers can help you to fight to get you the maximum amount available for your claim. Contact our law firm at (312) 929-2884 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney.