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Ches Crosbie Barristers

You Can't Argue Negligence Without Causation

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In this Trial Division decision, the court found that the defendant had been negligent, but the plaintiff had not proven the necessary causal connection between the defendant’s negligence and his injuries.  

In the Newfoundland and Labrador case of Lane v. Alcock Enterprises, Mr. Lane fell on a set of four stairs leading to a landing. He argued negligence in three respects: no hand rail, difficult stair geometry, and lack of non-slip treading.

The trial judge found that the lack of a handrail and poor stair geometry from the main access stairs into the business, constitute negligence. Evidence of architectural experts was heard. However the judge found that she was not convinced that either the stair geometry or the lack of a handrailing made a significant contribution to the slip and fall and consequent injuries.

The teaching point is that to succeed in a negligence action, the plaintiff needs to prove not just negligence, but that the negligence caused the injury. Proof of causation is the element of a successful action that all too often gets overlooked. Plaintiffs and their lawyers neglect proof of causation at their peril.

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