Proving causation in auto accident cases

Posted By Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney || 5-Oct-2011

A Missouri personal injury lawyer must prove liability and damages to succeed in a personal injury claim. Liability is whether or not the negligent driver violated a duty, i.e. drove too fast, failed to keep a lookout, or violated various other rules of the road. That violation must be the cause of the damages to the victim. In most cases, causation is obvious and easily proven, but it sometimes can be a difficult issue.

With regards to Missouri automobile negligence, it is necessary to prove "causation" or that the negligent party is the "actual cause" of the accident and injuries sustained. To do this, it must be shown that there would be no injuries but for the negligent party's action. If it is possible to take that action out of the scenario and the result is still the same, it is incorrect to say that there is actual causation.

Another aspect of causation is that the Missouri auto accident injury must be the "proximate cause" of the negligent driver, meaning the injuries sustained were a foreseeable consequence of the negligent party's action. Peoples v. Conway, 897 S.W.2d 206 (Mo.app.1995). Meaning: did the act cause a succession of injuries other than the initial one. Are the subsequent injuries the "natural and probable" outcome of the original negligent act? The difficulty in proving proximate causation is to know where the stopping point is. Finding the fair and reasonable degree of separation can become a gray area. See Wilkerson v. Williams, 141 S.W.3d 530 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D. 2004). Luallen v. Reid, 58 S.W.3d 50 (Mo.App.2001) shows that negligence need only be a contributor to the injuries sustained, not the sole cause. To establish proximate causation, it is "sufficient that it be one of the efficient causes thereof, without which the injury would not have resulted."