Determining Causation in Car Accident Injuries

by | Feb 2, 2015 | Medical Record Review

Car accident victims seeking compensation for their injuries need to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident and the injury they sustained. Personal injury lawyers collect evidence that will help them prove three important things.

  • The other driver’s negligence was the reason for the accident
  • The claimant was indeed injured to the extent stated
  • The injuries were caused by the other driver’s reckless behavior that resulted in the accident

The attorney will have to establish a clear line of causation between the defendant driver’s actions and the claimant’s injuries. Insurance companies usually appoint independent medical reviewers to evaluate accident victims and find out whether they are really hurt as they claim to be.

To establish causation, the lawyer will have to prove that a reasonable person would foresee a risk of the injuries sustained by the victim as a result of the other driver’s behavior. For example, Motorist A jumping a red light and striking Motorist B’s vehicle as the latter was making a left turn is at fault, as any reasonable person would agree. Therefore it emerges that the injuries sustained by Motorist B is the direct result of the inappropriate behavior of Motorist A, i.e. jumping the red light. In other words, a reasonable person would understand that running a red light is an action that carried the risk of hitting another vehicle and injuring the driver or passengers within it.

Next, Motorist B’s lawyer will have to prove that Motorist A’s behavior or action was the necessary cause of his client’s injuries. If the driver had acted differently, the injuries would not have occurred.

There is a possibility that Motorist A’s insurance company lawyer will argue that Motorist B’s medical conditions or injuries were not really caused by the accident though he/she may agree that Motorist A was indeed reckless. In such an instance, the insurance lawyer may request a review of Motorist B’s medical records to identify any pre-existing conditions that may have caused the medical problems suffered by Motorist B. For example, if Motorist B has back pain and the medical records including X-rays and MRIs show herniation of the spinal discs or other signs of gradual degeneration, the insurance lawyer could argue that Motorist B’s medical condition was due to normal aging or some other reason and did not result directly from the accident.

However, experienced personal injury attorneys know that even when Motorist B has a pre-existing condition like the above, an impact like a car crash can worsen that condition. Therefore the insurance company is still liable to pay the compensation for the medical expenses and treatment.

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