What is Injury Causation?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2019
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Injury causation is a term commonly used in personal injury cases. It essentially refers to the relationship between an act that causes an injury and the injuries a person sustains. In a personal injury case, the person who was injured typically has to demonstrate that the acts of the defendant caused his injuries; this is referred to as personal injury causation. In most cases, the defendant in a personal injury case tries to prove the opposite: that the plaintiff has a preexisting injury or that his injuries have some other cause.

In many jurisdictions with laws that govern personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff in a lawsuit must provide proof that he was injured. For example, if a person who has been in a car accident has a broken leg, his doctor’s records may provide proof of the injury. In such a case, injury causation may be easy to prove, as the broken leg is obvious and may have been treated directly after the car accident. Matters are murkier, however, when the injuries a person is claiming could possibly have been present before the accident.


Many people have back pain following various types of accidents, and it is sometimes difficult to determine injury causation in such cases. For example, a person who has been injured in a car accident may sue the defendant for causing his back injuries and seek compensation for medical expenses, pain, and suffering. While the plaintiff may feel that he has a clear-cut case, the defendant may cite medical records that indicate that the plaintiff suffered a back injury in the past. In such a case, the plaintiff’s attorney may argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant while the defendant’s attorney may argue that his pain and suffering were caused by his previous injury. If the defendant proves this, the plaintiff usually loses his case.

When it comes to injury causation, a plaintiff’s case isn’t always damaged by a previous injury. In some cases, lawyers are able to prove that the preexisting injury was not active at the time of the accident; medical records and expert witnesses may help with this. Sometimes attorneys even strive to prove that the defendant's actions did not cause the injury but aggravated it. In such a case, the defendant may be ordered to compensate the plaintiff for worsening his condition. Additionally, some plaintiffs have multiple injuries, and a judge has to decide which of the injuries are the fault of the defendant.


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