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Injury Causation in Auto Collision Cases

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

One of the most significant areas of dispute in auto crash cases involves whether the crash caused a specific injury.

Sometimes this is an easy question to answer, and other times it’s not.

When there is a broken bone, the defense team mostly concedes that it was caused by the crash. However, when it comes to spinal injuries like a derangement of a spinal disc, the defense team contests causation.

When spinal injuries are disputed, we often hear fallacious arguments about minimal vehicle damage, making it unlikely that the claimed injuries resulted from the crash.

The problem with these types of arguments is that everybody’s body is different; the forces exercised on the body during a crash affect each person differently.

An 80-year-old in somewhat fragile physical condition at the time of a crash may not come out of the crash injury free. A 20-year-old experiencing the same forces in the collision will likely have fewer injuries.

Medical doctors usually are called upon to decide these causation issues. Or at least a medical expert will be called upon to offer an opinion on the causation issue, ultimately left up to the jury to decide.

In grade school and middle school, most students learned about Newton’s laws of physics.

Do you remember hearing that force equals mass times acceleration? The formula is sometimes described as F = MA.

Another of Newton’s laws involves the concept of momentum. Momentum is defined as a vector of mass times velocity.

Of course, the most familiar of Newton’s laws is the third law. The third law says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Suppose someone sitting stopped at a railroad track is hit from behind by a semi. The car gets pushed forward, and the person occupying the vehicle suffers substantial injury.

But then another truck hits the back of the first truck and pushes the first truck further into the car that was stopped.

Did the force of the second truck striking the first truck cause even more injury?

Dueling experts called witnesses for the parties involved in a lawsuit assist a jury in sorting out which impact caused what particular injury.

We cannot go into too much detail in a podcast. It takes a lot of expertise to deal with the causation of injury following a crash.

Issues such as these apply to neck and back injuries, hip replacement surgeries following a crash, the timing and cause of death, etc.

We find causation issues in seatbelt latch failure cases. We find causation issues when injuries are suffered when airbag covers strike passengers fracturing elbows or other bones.

But the same medical testimony is required where a person with pre-existing problems in their spine, but able to work and earn a living, finds themself disabled after a crash.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”