Establishing liability for Tuscaloosa accidents involves a detailed understanding of Alabama personal injury law. Our Tuscaloosa Personal Injury Lawyers at Cross & Smith have vast experience in handling Tuscaloosa, Alabama personal injury and accident cases.
Most Tuscaloosa personal injury cases involve a claim for negligence. A negligence claim is broken down into four elements: (1) duty; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) causation; and (4) damage.
A good example to help conceptualize the four elements of negligence is an auto accident case involving a motorist who runs a red light. A motorist traveling through an intersection has a duty not proceed through the intersection if the traffic light is red. Therefore, if that motorist proceeds through the intersection while the traffic light is red, that motorist has breached his or her duty to the traveling public. However, a claim for negligence does not arise unless that motorist strikes another vehicle causing damage. If that happens, the four elements of negligence have been met.
Perhaps the most complex of the four elements of negligence is causation (the third element of negligence). Causation is broken down into two parts: factual causation and legal causation. There must be evidence of both factual causation and legal causation to support a negligence claim.
Factual causation is referred to as the “cause in fact” of the injury. Simply put, there must be a cause-and-effect relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury. The “but for” test is generally a helpful way to determine if a defendant’s conduct is the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injury. Using our example above, “but for” the motorist running the red light, the collision would not have happened. Therefore, the motorist’s conduct is the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injury.
The more difficult part of the causation analysis involves legal causation or proximate causation (these terms are often used interchangeably). “Proximate or legal causation is that part of causation analysis that asks if the act for which the defendant is responsible is of such a nature that courts of law will recognize it as the cause of the injury.” Springer v. Jefferson County, 595 So. 2d 1381, 1383-1384 (Ala. 1992). The issue of proximate cause hinges on foreseeability. That is to say, it must reasonably foreseeable that the defendant’s conduct would lead to the plaintiff’s injury. This legal doctrine protects defendants from the remote consequences of their negligence. This doctrine also protects defendants from the conduct of a third party that is unforeseeable, referred to as a superseding intervening cause. Intervening cause involves a subsequent act of a third party that is both unforeseeable and sufficient to be the sole cause in fact of the injury. As you might imagine, this analysis can be very complex in many Tuscaloosa personal injury cases.
If you, or someone close to you, have been injured in a Tuscaloosa accident, please call the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Personal Injury Lawyers at Cross & Smith. The lawyers at Cross & Smith have represented individuals in personal injury accident cases in Tuscaloosa and throughout Alabama for over 20 years. You may contact us online or call our office at (877) 791-0618 for a free confidential consultation.