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In a personal injury suit, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving a causal relationship between the injury and the accident which caused the injury. Proof must be by a preponderance of the evidence. The test for determining the causal relationship is whether the plaintiff proved through medical testimony that it is more probable than not that the subsequent injuries were caused by the accident. Causation is a question of fact and is subject to the manifest error standard of review.
Plaintiff and defendant engaged in a verbal dispute which escalated into a physical confrontation. Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Plaintiff refused to undergo a head CT scan and was subsequently discharged against medical advice. However, plaintiff was then admitted to the emergency room of another hospital, where he was diagnosed with a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Plaintiff instituted an action against the defendant. The trial court found the defendant liable only for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff in the bar fight and not for the plaintiff’s subsequent ruptured aortic aneurysm. Plaintiff appealed.
Did the trial court err in finding the defendant liable only for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff in the bar fight?
The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. According to the court, the defendant was properly found liable only for injuries suffered in the fight and not for plaintiff's subsequent ruptured aortic aneurysm because plaintiff did not make the required showing, for purposes of applying a presumption of causation, that he was in good health prior to the accident and that there was a reasonable possibility of causation.