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Proving Causation in Back and Neck Personal Injury Claims

To have a viable personal injury claim, you need to prove causation – that is, that your injury was caused by the negligent party and not by other factors. If another driver runs a stop sign and hits the side of your car and breaks your leg, it is very clear that the accident caused the broken leg. In this case, causation will be easy to prove. But if you are hit from behind by a speeding driver, damage to your back and neck might not be apparent at the time of the accident. There might not be a visible injury and you may be able to get out of your car and move around without difficulty.

Back and neck pain often does not manifest immediately after an accident and this can make proving causation more difficult.  When you experience sharp pain in your back several months later, you will need to prove that the back injury was caused by the accident — not by some other event that occurred after the accident.

The defendant’s insurance company will often argue that even though you have a back injury and their client is negligent, the injury was not caused by their client’s negligence but by something or someone else.  In order to prove the link between the back injury and the accident, you will need testimony from a doctor and medical evidence, such as scans and x-rays.

My personal injury law firm represented an individual in Lafayette, Louisiana who was in a minor car accident. Months later he began complaining about back pain, and we had an MRI performed on his lower back. The treating physician testified in court that in all medical probability the protruding disc had existed for an extended period of time.  The physician was unable to find any other possible causes for the disc injury, so he concluded that the car accident was the most probable cause for the injury.

This is a classic example of how you can prove causation in back and neck injury cases – since back and neck injuries happen internally and often take a while to produce symptoms, it is absolutely necessary to use medical tests and testimony by a physician to prove causation.

Thomas Alonzo

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