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What Is Causation?

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What Is Causation?

Causation sounds simple enough. But in the context of a personal injury case, it isn’t always straightforward.

For example, if Car A is speeding and runs a red light, crashing into Car B, then Car A caused the accident. Right? 

But suppose the brakes on Car A were just improperly repaired by a mechanic and did not work properly when the driver tried to stop. Suppose further that the traffic light was faulty and did not give a long enough yellow light warning for the driver of Car A to slow down.

In this example, the driver of Car A was speeding, the mechanic improperly fixed the brakes, and the company that installed the traffic light may have programmed it incorrectly. So, who caused the accident with Car B? 

If you were injured in an accident and seek compensation for your losses, you will need to establish that the at-fault party caused your damages. As the example above shows, identifying what caused an accident can sometimes get messy. An experienced personal injury lawyer can be instrumental in untangling the facts of your case to prove causation. 

What Are the Two Types of Causation?

What Are the Two Types of Causation?

In a personal injury case, there are two types of causation: actual cause and proximate cause. To succeed in your case, you must prove both types. These terms can be confusing, and courts may discuss them together simply as “causation” rather than as two separate terms. 

Nonetheless, it is important to understand each term as they each have distinct meanings.

Actual Cause

Actual cause is the action or inaction that led to the consequence or result. You can often determine actual cause by looking at the action immediately preceding the accident or other consequence. In a personal injury case, a defendant’s action was the actual cause of an accident or injury if the plaintiff’s injury would not have happened “but for” the defendant’s actions. 

For instance, if a driver is speeding and rear-ends the vehicle in front of them, the driver’s actions were the actual cause of the accident because it would not have happened “but for” the driver’s actions.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is the legal cause of a certain result. Basically, it is a limit on actual cause. An injury must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. That is, a defendant may be held liable for results that are reasonably expected to result from their actions, but not damages that are too far removed from their actions. 

Take the example from above. Suppose the speeding car rear-ended a car carrying explosives, causing an explosion that injured a pedestrian bystander. The pedestrian being injured by explosives is probably not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of speeding.

How Does Causation Affect My Personal Injury Case?

If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you can likely seek compensation for your injuries and losses. To succeed in your case, you must prove that the other party was negligent. To do so, you will need to prove the following four elements:

Duty of care

The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. Most often, this is the duty to exercise reasonable care and consideration under the circumstances. For example, when driving a car, you owe other drivers, passengers, and bystanders a duty to drive safely and with a reasonable amount of care.

Breach of duty

The at-fault party breached their duty of care. Their actions or inactions violated the accepted standard of care under the circumstances. For example, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs would be a breach of the duty of care generally required when driving.


The at-fault party’s actions or inactions were the cause–legal and proximate–of the victim’s injuries.


You suffered injuries or losses. You must show that you incurred actual losses as a result of the defendant’s actions or conduct. 

How Do I Prove Causation?

You would prove causation in your personal injury case by presenting evidence to support your version of the facts. Common types of evidence used to prove causation include:

  • Testimony from the parties and eyewitnesses
  • Video footage 
  • Toxicology reports
  • Testimony from expert witnesses, such as collision reconstructionists or engineers

A skilled personal injury lawyer will gather the facts and evidence to support your claims and prove causation.

What if I Was Partly Responsible for the Accident?

Often, multiple parties are at fault in an accident. If you were partially at fault in an accident, you may still be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, it depends on the extent to which you were at fault.

Nevada follows a modified comparative negligence model with a 51% recovery bar. Under this model, you can still recover some of your damages as long as you are not more than 50 percent at fault. If you are more than 50 percent to blame for the accident, then you cannot recover your damages. 

Further, the amount you can recover will be reduced according to your portion of fault. For example, suppose you were in a car accident and suffered $10,000 in damages. If you are found to be 25% at fault and the other driver was 75% at fault, then you could recover up to $7,500 from the at-fault party. 

Contact an Experienced Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you were injured in an accident in Las Vegas, NV, and someone else was to blame, then you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer from De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers can help with every aspect of your case, including proving causation against the responsible party.

Contact our office at (702) 222-9999 to learn more about our lawyers and how we can help. Your initial consultation is 100% free.

Areas We Serve

At De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers our personal injury lawyers serve the following localities: Angel Park, Anthem, Boulder City, Downtown Las Vegas, East Las Vegas, Gibson Springs, Green Valley, Henderson, Lake Las Vegas, MacDonald Ranch, McCullough Hills, Mission Hills, Paradise, Peccole Ranch, Queensridge, Reno, Seven Hills, Smoke Ranch, Spring Valley, Summerlin, The Lakes, The Strip, Whitney, and more.
We also represent accident victims in Oakland, CA.

About Our Firm

De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers, located in Las Vegas, NV, is a personal injury law firm established over 30 years ago.
We have 100+ years of combined experience securing hundreds of millions for injured people throughout Nevada. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today to discuss your case.

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