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PERSONAL INJURY: CAUSATION AND NEGLIGENCE

causationAn unbroken chain must connect cause-and-effect between an accident and an injury in any case.  It may seem obvious.  But, causation is a fundamental element underlying every claim of negligence.  As the question below shows, the critical legal element of causation must never be overlooked:

Attorney Myers: My wife had a trial in an accident case and the defendant was found to be negligent.  But, no money was awarded.  What can be done about this?  She has suffered both as a result of this accident and some medical conditions that were not bothering her before, but which have caused problems since her accident.  The jury gave no monetary compensation because of this.  If a jury finds the defendant negligent in a personal injury case, doesn’t it have to award damages for medical bills and pain and suffering?

Answer: a civil jury can return a verdict finding negligence on the part of the defendant, but find that there are no causally related damages. Causation is the most overlooked element in negligence cases. In other words, it is not enough to claim that the defendant (1) committed a negligent act, or what is called breach of duty, (2) there are damages, and (3) the defendant must pay.  (1) and (2) must be tied together with a link of causation.  This seems so simple and obvious that it is often overlooked.  Juries are instructed in detail on the elements of negligence.  So, they go over the evidence and if causation is missing, this is a possible verdict.

The link in the chain of causation is closed most of the time with medical testimony.

There are very short, absolute deadlines on post-trial motions and on notices of appeal.  So when this happened the trial attorney would have needed to look at all options ASAP.  Only the attorney who tried the case can make the determination as to the best approach.

If anyone is crazy enough to attempt their own personal injury claim, this is one of the legal building blocks requiring attention from an experienced personal injury attorney.

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Attorney Myers is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers, and New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. The Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers offer a broad range of legal services in personal injury cases in Massachusetts (MA) and New Hampshire (NH) areas.

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