Tennessee Court Discusses Establishing Causation in Car Accident Case

There are many elements that a plaintiff in a lawsuit arising out of a car accident must prove to demonstrate that damages should be awarded. In other words, the plaintiff must not only prove that the defendant’s acts led to the accident, but also that the accident caused the plaintiff to suffer actual harm; otherwise, the plaintiff may be denied compensation. This was demonstrated in a recent Tennessee case in which the defendant conceded liability, but the jury declined to grant the plaintiff any damages, finding that she had not established causation. If you were hurt in a car accident, it is in your best interest to speak to a seasoned Tennessee car accident attorney to assess what you must prove to present a winning case.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a 70-year-old widow, was driving to work when she was struck from the rear by the defendant driver. The plaintiff, who suffered from degenerative disc disease, alleged she suffered back and neck pain following the accident and filed a negligence claim against the defendant. Prior to the trial, the defendant conceded liability but argued that the crash was minor, in that the two cars barely touched and his airbags did not deploy.

It is reported that during the trial, the plaintiff presented the testimony of a medical expert, who stated that the accident had aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition. The expert admitted, however, that her opinion was based on subjective evidence. The jury found in favor of the defendant, denying the plaintiff damages. The plaintiff then appealed, arguing the jury’s verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Establishing Causation in Car Accident Case

On appeal, the court stated that the plaintiff in a negligence action has the burden of proving that the defendant’s acts were the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s harm. In other words, proof that the defendant was negligent is irrelevant if no injuries were sustained. A defendant’s behavior will be the cause in fact of a plaintiff’s losses if the losses would not have occurred without the defendant’s acts. The court went on to explain that causation in a personal injury matter must typically be demonstrated by testimony from a medical expert, and that proof that an accident worsened a pre-existing condition is generally sufficient.

Here, the plaintiff argued that she met her burden of proof but that the jury ignored the unrefuted testimony of her expert. The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument, finding that as the expert’s opinion was based on purely subjective findings, the jury was free to disregard it and to find that the accident did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries. As such, the appellate court ultimately affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Discuss Your Accident with a Knowledgeable Tennessee Attorney

If you were injured in a car accident, you may be owed damages and should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Eric Beasley is a knowledgeable Tennessee car accident attorney who can advise you of your options and assist you in gathering any facts or evidence that will assist you in your pursuit of compensation. Mr. Beasley can be reached via the form online or at 615-859-2223 to schedule a meeting.