What is causation in a public liability claim?

Published 14 May 2018

Public liability claims may seem simple on the surface. If you are injured or become ill due to the negligence of an individual or organisation, you should be entitled to compensation.

But the rules governing these claims are quite complex and plaintiffs have to meet various criteria to convince a judge that a payout is justified. One of the key principles of civil liability law is causation, so let's examine what this means in practice.

Understanding causation

Public liability claims centre on the issue of negligence. Put simply, an individual or organisation is usually deemed negligent if they owed you a duty of care and they breach this obligation by failing to protect you from harm.

However, establishing negligence isn't enough to receive compensation. You must also make a direct correlation between the defendant's negligence and your injuries. This link is called 'factual causation' and the general principles are outlined in the Civil Liability Act 2002.

Showing factual causation can be tricky, particularly in medical negligence claims where the patient's injuries could be the result of pre-existing health conditions or the typical risks associated with surgeries or treatments.

Similarly, causation may be obvious. If a plaintiff breaks a leg slipping on a wet floor in a supermarket, the individual's injuries can be clearly linked to the accident.

The scope of liability

Once factual causation is established, the court must also consider a negligent party's scope of liability. In other words, how strong is the defendant's responsibility for the injuries that occurred?

For example, there may be multiple negligent parties involved in a public liability claim. The scope of liability can therefore assist a judge in determining who is to blame and how to apportion damages between different liable defendants.

Contributory negligence may also be a factor in some cases, which is where the plaintiff themselves are partly at fault for their injuries. The claimant's award of compensation may be reduced depending on their level of blame.

How do I establish causation?

As we've shown, you may not receive compensation for a public liability claim even when the defendant is clearly negligent. You must show this negligence was a direct factor in the injuries you suffered.

Expert public liability claim lawyers can examine your case and gather evidence on your behalf to highlight negligent actions and establish causation.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers is a no-win, no-fee firm that has comprehensive experience of handling public liability claims.

Contact us today to book a free consultation and find out how we can deliver the result that you are looking for.