An Overview of Causation In Massachusetts Auto Accident Cases

When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts, they may be entitled to financial compensation for the losses and damages incurred as a result of the injuries suffered in the crash. The injured party can seek compensation by filing and pursuing a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the person or persons who caused the accident.

In order to be successful in the injury claim or case, the injured party (the claimant or plaintiff) must prove the other driver(s) was negligent. There are elements that must be established to sustain a claim of negligence. This article will focus on the element of “causation”.

Summary of a Negligence Claim

As stated above, in a personal injury claim or lawsuit that arises from a car accident, the injured individual or plaintiff will have the burden of proving the other driver was negligent. In a motor vehicle accident case, negligence is the civil cause of action asserted against the other driver that claims they acted or behaved in a careless way that caused injury or harm to the claimant or plaintiff.

As with all civil lawsuits in Massachusetts, the plaintiff must prove the elements of the cause of action asserted. The elements of a negligence cause of action are: duty, breach of care, causation, and damages. If the plaintiff is successful in establishing the defendant (other driver) was negligent, the defendant will be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

The “Causation” Element of a Negligence Claim

In all negligence claims or lawsuits, the term “causation” or “cause” is often discussed. Cause is different than liability because it deals with injuries, not who’s responsible for causing the accident. To prove "causation" in a car accident case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the car accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that there is a sufficient causal connection between the defendant's negligence and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.

In some cases, proving causation is relatively easy. For example, if you are involved in a serious car accident that results in you breaking your leg, it should be clear that the crash caused your broken leg. In many other cases, however, proving causation is more difficult. In fact, it can sometimes be both legally and medically complex. Let’s look at an example that our office has recently dealt with:

We had the pleasure of representing an individual, who suffered serious injuries in a car accident in Mission Hill, a section of Boston, Massachusetts. This gentleman was rear-ended in Boston’s congested morning traffic. He suffered a lower back injury in the crash and was transported to the emergency room by ambulance. This man had a history of lumbar surgeries and had hardware in his lower back from a previous spinal fusion. When he was examined by his orthopedic spine surgeon after the accident, it was determined that he had a disc protrusion in his lumbar spine with worsening back pain and radiculopathy. The surgeon opined that this man was a candidate for revision lumbar surgery.

The legal dispute in this personal injury claim was of causation. Although the other driver’s auto insurance company accepted liability, they disputed the causal relationship between the rear-end accident and the need for the lower back revision surgery. They argued that the crash did not cause the need for the back surgery. Through the strategic use of experts and medical professionals, Mahaney & Pappas, LLP was able to sufficiently establish that the car accident was the major cause of the back injury and surgery. The insurance company ultimately settled this case.

As you can see, disputes on the issue of causation often arise in accident cases. Establishing the cause, or causes, of the plaintiff's injuries in a serious car crash can be a difficult task. Car insurance companies routinely employ the use of several different tactics to deny an injury claim or minimize the amount paid. One of those is to dispute the causal connection between the accident and injury. Insurance companies often argue that injuries or symptoms are pre-existing or not related to the crash. Therefore, when someone is seriously injured in an accident in Massachusetts, they should seek legal representation from skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys.

Serious accidents resulting in severe injuries can be extremely devastating to individuals and their families. Many times, injuries from accidents result in very expensive medical bills, as well as significant time out of work and lost wages. These costs and losses can have a drastic impact in the lives of the accident victim. Mahaney & Pappas, LLP specializes in helping injured individuals and their families get the financial compensation they deserve for the injuries and losses they suffered in accidents. Our personal injury lawyers have vast experience in accident cases and regularly use investigators, medical experts and other scientific professionals to prove their cases, including the causal connection between the accident and injuries. 

Seriously Injured in a Car Accident? Speak with an Experienced Injury Lawyer Today

Complex legal issues can arise in injury cases from car accidents. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident, get legal help from an experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts.

Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 40 years of combined experience representing individuals, who have been seriously injured in car crashes. To get answers to your questions or a free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at (508) 879-3500. We are here to help.

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