3. Direct & Proximate Cause
Just as importantly, in successful negligence cases, a plaintiff also must prove that the defendant’s actions were the actual (or direct) and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Direct causation is often referred to as “but-for” causation, meaning that, but for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff’s injury would not have occurred. Looking at our example again, the plaintiff could prove this element by showing that but for the bakery owner’s negligent act of carelessly tossing the flour into the van, she would not have been struck and injured. Proximate cause means that your injuries were a natural and foreseeable result of the defendant’s act (or failure to act).
The final element of a personal injury case is damages. Generally speaking, a plaintiff must prove they experienced damages as a result of their injury. Why is this important? Because an injured party is entitled to damages from an at-fault party to compensate for their losses. In successful cases, you have to be able to show an injury or damages of some kind. Without damages, negligence does not produce a compensable cause of action. What this means is that you are not entitled to be compensated if there is no injury, damage, or loss.
Using our example, the woman who was hit with the bag of flour could prove she experienced damages if the impact caused her to fall and hit her head and sustain a concussion. The damages the woman would pursue would be the costs associated medical attention she needed to diagnose and treat her head injury, as well as future medical costs, along with other compensable elements of damages such as economic issues, and pain & suffering.
At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., our personal injury law team has proven experience and expertise, as well as a background of success with negligence cases. Please contact us if you have been a victim of someone else’s negligence. You can call us at (617) 742-1900 or, if you are outside the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. You may also contact us online.