One of the key elements in any personal injury lawsuit is causation. In order to prove causation, a plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant’s allegedly negligent actions were the cause of their injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, in reality causation is a contested element in many personal injury cases. A recent case illustrates how a defendant may successfully argue that their actions, even if determined to be negligent, were not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The plaintiff was moving into a new apartment that was owned by a co-worker. Prior to allowing the plaintiff to move in, the homeowner contacted the local gas company and arranged for the gas to be turned on. A technician from the gas company came out to the house, but upon doing so, he discovered that the gas line had a leak in it. The technician turned the gas back off and left a warning card with a 20-year-old girl who was dating the plaintiff’s step-son.
The warning card left by the technician explained that there was a leak in the system and that it needed to be fixed before turning the gas back on. The card also explained that the technician had left the gas off, but the meter was not locked so that a plumber could turn it back on once the leak was fixed. This was in violation of the gas company’s policy, which required that meters on homes with leaking gas systems be locked by the technician when they leave the property.