The Importance of Causation in Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Cases

When someone is injured as a result of another person’s negligence, Washington D.C. law allows the victim to seek monetary compensation from the party responsible for their injuries. The victim may file a negligence action, and if successful they may recover for lost wages, past and future medical bills, and even for the pain and suffering they suffered as a result of their injury. While this may sound like a simple process, the requirements for successfully bringing a negligence claim can at times be difficult to manage.

To be successful in a negligence claim, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty of care towards the plaintiff, that the defendant breached that duty, that the breach was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury, and that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. When filing a claim, it is crucial to include all of these elements in the complaint. Without one of the above elements, the case can be dismissed before it even begins, and the plaintiff will not recover any compensation for their injuries.

For instance, it is not enough to establish that the defendant had a duty of care toward the plaintiff, that they breached this duty, and that the plaintiff was injured. Missing in this example is the critical element of causation. To succeed, the plaintiff must show that their injuries were a direct result of the defendant’s breach of duty. This cannot be implied but must be explicitly stated.

Take, for example, a recent state supreme court case. According to the written opinion, the plaintiff was grocery shopping when another shopper ran into her on a motorized cart, which the store provided to shoppers with limited mobility. As a result, the plaintiff fell to the ground and was injured, so severely that she could not stand afterward and had to be taken to the hospital by an ambulance. Her injuries resulted in $11,511 in medical bills. She sued the grocery store, alleging that the store did not provide proper instructions to shoppers using the motorized carts. But, ultimately, the court dismissed her case because she did not present any evidence that the grocery store’s lack of instructions to shoppers was the reason for her specific accident. Even presuming, at this stage, that all of the other elements of a negligence action were there, a case cannot continue if the plaintiff does not present evidence of causation.

Have You or a Loved One Recently Been Injured By Someone Else’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one have recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to receive monetary compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Contact Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers today to discuss your claim. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our attorneys are experienced in all areas of personal injury law and have decades of experience helping Washington, D.C. plaintiffs recover for their injuries. We also handle cases across Maryland and Virginia. Call us today at 800-654-1949 to schedule your free consultation or fill out our online form.

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