“But for” in Personal Injury Cases

» Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

Accidents will happen, and it is not always someone’s fault. However, when an accident is preventable, then that is a whole other story. Tort law refers to it as a “but for” condition i.e. the adverse event would not have happened but for the act of the defendant. Louisville KY personal injury lawyers refer to the negligent act is the proximate cause, the main event, the catalyst.

For example, say that Tom decides to walk the dog for half an hour but could not find the leash. The dog is big, but it has never exhibited aggression. Tom decides it is safe to walk the dog unleashed. Along the way, they see their 5-year-old neighbor Gina in the park. Before Tom could react, the dog rushes up and knocks Gina down. The child hits her head on a concrete block and needs stitches. Because Tom did not have a leash, he had been unable to control the dog in time.

There was no intent to harm, but Tom was negligent by not having his dog on a leash. In effect, but for Tom’s action, Gina’s head would not have been wounded. In Kentucky, a dog owner is liable for any injury or damage caused by the dog. It does not have to be a dog bite, and it does not have to be an aggressive act. The formal term for this is strict liability.

It is important to distinguish between malicious intent and negligence. While both may result in a civil suit, intent is not a requirement in tort law. The plaintiff just has to prove that there was a wrongful act that was the proximate (but for) cause of the injury or damage. In Tom’s case, he was not able to control his dog because he had no leash. Sometimes, it is tragically as simple as that.

If you sustained preventable serious injuries because of the negligent act of a third party, you may be able to get compensation for your loss. Contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to establish the “but for” in your case.

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