Wrongful Death Causation
Wrongful Death Causation

What is Legal Causation

To establish wrongful death causation the injuries and resulting death must be causally related to the incident. A direct cause is defined by the Minnesota Jury Instruction Guide CIVJIG 27.10 as: A “direct cause” is a cause that had a substantial part in bringing about the (collision) (accident) (event) (harm) (injury).

Minnesota Applies a Substantial Factor Causation Test

As decided in the Minnesota Supreme Court George v. Estate of Baker, 724 N.W.2d 1 10-11 (Minn. 2006), Minnesota applies the substantial factor test for causation.

The negligent act is a direct, or proximate, cause of harm if the act was a substantial factor in the harm’s occurrence. 4 Minn. Dist. Judges Ass’n, Minnesota Practice—Jury Instruction Guides, Civil, CIVJIG 27.10 (4th ed.1999); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 431 (1965). Factual, or but-for, causation is insufficient to establish liability in Minnesota because “[i]n a philosophical sense, the causes of an accident go back to the birth of the parties and the discovery of America.” William L. Prosser, The Minnesota Court on Proximate Cause, 21 Minn. L.Rev. 19, 22 (1936). But-for causation, however, is still necessary for substantial factor causation because if the harm would have occurred even without the negligent act, the act could not have been a substantial factor in bringing about the harm. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 432 (1965); Draxton v. Katzmarek, 203 Minn. 161, 164-65, 280 N.W. 288, 290 (1938) (“If the accident * * * would have happened even if there had been an absence of excessive speed, such speed was not a material element or substantial factor in bringing it about and hence not a proximate cause.”). The classic test for determining factual cause is to compare what actually happened with a hypothetical situation identical to what actually happened but without the negligent act. W. Page Keeton, et al., Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 41, at 265 (5th ed.1984).

Contact an Experienced Attorney

If you have concerns about it there is possible causation which lead to the death of someone in your family contact attorney Kenneth LaBore for a free consultation to discuss you questions and options at 612-743-9048 or by email at KLaBore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com.