Medical Causation

It is axiomatic that one may only recover damages for pain and suffering for the injuries which are “a direct and proximate result” of an accident for which another is at fault.  In layman’s terms, an injury only forms the basis for a lawsuit for damages if that injury was actually caused by the accident, as opposed to a previous accident, natural degeneration of the body, or another unrelated cause.  Simply put, it is not enough to be in an accident and be injured; to recover damages, it must be proven that the injury and the accident are sufficiently related.  As discussed previously here, judges and lawyers are not medically qualified to determine the nature, extent, or cause of an injury, but courts can and do set standards for what a physician must state in order to relate your injury to your accident.  An otherwise “perfect” case faces a serious risk of dismissal (with no recovery of damages) if your doctor fails to include properly document in your medical records the causation of your injury.  It is your attorney’s job to cooperate with and guide your physician in formatting your records for compliance with legal requirements; anything less risks turning a potentially viable case into no case at all.