Establishing Causation in South Florida Car Accidents

There are several elements that a plaintiff must establish before they are able to recover financially after a South Florida car accident. One of these key elements is causation. Simply stated, the causation element requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s conduct was the legal cause of their injuries, or, to use the legal terminology, the “proximate cause.”

Traffic JamThere is not an exact definition of the term proximate cause, and determining whether a defendant’s actions constitute proximate cause is normally left up to a jury. However, in some situations, a court may determine whether proximate cause exists as a matter of law through a summary judgment proceeding. Whether being decided by a judge or jury, the question is whether the defendant’s actions more likely than not “foreseeably and substantially contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.” Importantly, proximate cause does not need to be the only cause of an accident.

A recent personal injury case illustrates how one state court’s causation analysis resulted in the dismissal of a car accident victim’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was heading westbound and was about to make a left turn into a parking lot. In order to make the turn, the plaintiff needed to cross two eastbound lanes of traffic. At the time, the centermost eastbound lane was backed up with traffic that was stopped at a red light. This traffic obstructed the plaintiff’s view of the other eastbound lane.

The plaintiff slowed down and began to position his car to make the turn. As he did so, he looked up and caught the attention of the defendant, who was waiting in line for the red light in the centermost eastbound lane. The defendant understood that the plaintiff was hoping to make a left turn in front of him, so the defendant checked his mirrors and waved the plaintiff on to complete the turn. The plaintiff slowly lurched forward, checking around the defendant’s vehicle before proceeding to cross the second eastbound lane. However, as the plaintiff entered that lane, another motorist quickly approached and struck his vehicle.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the defendant’s act of waving him on to complete the turn when it was not safe to do so was the cause of the accident. The court disagreed. The court explained that it was ultimately the plaintiff’s responsibility to ensure that it was safe to proceed before entering the eastbound lanes. Furthermore, the fact that the plaintiff slowly proceeded into the eastbound lanes, despite the defendant’s gesture indicating that it was clear, showed that the defendant’s actions were not the cause of the accident.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a South Florida car accident lawsuit. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank have decades of experience helping injured Floridians pursue the compensation they need and deserve. With offices in Miami, Naples, Homestead, and Miami Beach, we serve all of South Florida. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Limits Truck Owner’s Liability, Finding that He Loaned Truck to At-Fault Driver, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 6, 2017.

Who Is Responsible in Florida When Someone Causes an Accident Using a Borrowed or Stolen Car?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 10, 2017.

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