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What is 'cause-in-fact' with regard to Texas truck accidents?

A few weeks ago we discussed the idea that when a truck accident occurs in Texas that causes an injury or property damage, on remedy is that of a civil suit against the responsible party. Often, the legal concept underlying these suits is that of negligence. We pointed out that in a case for negligence the plaintiff -- or suing party -- needs to show that a person or entity had a duty that was breached, and that the breach was the cause of the actual injury or damage that was done. We have also discussed the first part of this test, that of duty and breech.

Causation in a negligence case can be a bit more complicated than it seems, because the legal terminology of cause in such cases encompasses both what is called 'cause-in-fact' and 'proximate cause.' In this post, we will briefly deal with the simpler of these two concepts, 'cause-in-fact,' and leave proximate cause for its own post.

Cause-in-fact in a negligence case is also often referred to as 'but for' causation. This is a basic form of causation and really deals with the idea that the breech of legal duty by the defendant did indeed cause the injury or damage. That is, 'but for' the defendant's negligence conduct, the injury would not have occurred. As we discussed previously, this conduct could be an action that the negligent party took that he or she should not have, or an action the defendant didn't take that should have been. This is important especially in the case of Texas truck accidents, as many times it is the tucking company that can be at least partially to blame for an accident by failing to follow appropriate safety regulations.

For example, the failure of a company to perform maintenance on its vehicles could be the cause-in-fact of the injuries sustained in an accident if but for the breech of the duty to maintain the truck, its brakes would not have failed. Now, whether that same breech was also the 'proximate cause' of any serious injuries suffered in an accident is a bit more complex, and we will cover that in a different post.

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