As you likely know by now, there are a handful of things that must be proven in order to win a personal injury lawsuit in Washington. You and your lawyer will need to prove the negligence of the at fault party, and demonstrate that any damages or injuries you sustained as a consequence are a direct result of that negligence. When it comes to establishing that negligence, two legal concepts called proximate cause and superseding cause both come into play.
What Is Proximate Cause?
Proximate cause is defined as an actual cause that is also legally sufficient to support liability. When the person who caused the accident’s actions happen in an unbroken sequence of events, meaning they directly caused your accident, injury or damages, this means proximate cause has occurred. Since it’s so important to prove which specific actions, carried out by whom, in order to determine who caused the accident, proximate cause is an important concept.
Proximate cause is proven by establishing two points. First, you must prove what’s referred to as “cause in fact.” Cause in fact is a concept that refers to the link between the injuries you sustained and the actions of the at-fault party. It needs to be proven that your injury would not have occurred if it wasn’t for the at-fault party’s actions. For example, the cause in fact would be that a driver swerved, hit your car, and caused you to break an arm or leg.
The second point that must be proven for proximate cause is legal causation. This refers to the question of the at-fault party’s duty of care for their conduct. There are situations in which one person owes a duty of care to others around them. For example, all drivers, pedestrians and cyclists owe a duty of care to others as they share the road. A shopkeeper owes a duty of care to all those who visit their shop. So, legal causation must prove that a duty of care was rightfully owed to you at the time of the accident, therefore the person who breached this duty of care is legally responsible for paying out your damages via a personal injury settlement.
What Is A Superseding Cause?
Proximate cause cannot be established if a superseding cause is present. A superseding cause occurs when another event happened during the accident that protects the at-fault party from being held accountable for the damages or injuries that occurred to you during the accident. For example, if a driver ran a red light while you were both passing through an intersection, and you eventually got out of your car and broke your leg, you getting out of the car is a superseding cause that breaks the chain of causality in the context of the accident. Therefore, you cannot tie your broken leg back to the driver running through a red light because a superseding cause (you getting out of the car) occurred between your injury and the other driver’s action.
How Does A Lawyer Help Me During The Personal Injury Claim Process?
All personal injury claims are settled on the basis of determining who was negligent and at-fault for the damages or injuries that occurred. In order to prove this negligence, you need to prove proximate cause or be aware of any superseding causes, which is difficult for someone to do on their own, especially while nursing injuries after an accident. You are not legally required to hire a lawyer to defend you during your personal injury case but, without the help of one, you run the risk of misunderstanding certain information or misrepresenting yourself in court.
Church and Page are Yakima personal injury attorneys who will stop at nothing to ensure you understand every aspect of your case. By taking the time to explain difficult and complex concepts like superseding causes and proximate cause, they help you better understand the legal process, which ensures you feel confident through every step of the personal injury settlement process.
Even if a superseding event exists, you still might have the option to file a personal injury claim against the other party who has at least some fault in the accident case as, in personal injury lawsuits, you are able to name more than one defendant. Our attorneys will look at the details of your case and find the best course of action to take to defend you and what happened to you, and will stop at nothing to ensure the right people are held accountable for your injuries.
Schedule A Free Consultation With Kennewick Car Accident Lawyers Today
At Church and Page, we offer a free consultation to any Washington resident who has suffered a car accident, dog bite, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, or any other personal injury accident that left them injured due to someone else’s negligence and wrongdoing. Call today to speak with our lawyers.