Proving Causation in Complex Cases

May 31, 2024

By: Aaron Lealess

Beckett Personal Injury Office's Scales of Justice's article image

In my fifteen years of representing victims of sexual abuse, there often arise situations, sadly, where a client has been through several traumatic events throughout their life. Sometimes the client has been abused by more than one perpetrator. Often there are multiple events that cause the psychological problems.

For success in a civil case the victim (plaintiff) must establish on a balance of probabilities that the sexual abuse caused or materially contributed to their injuries1. It is not necessary for the plaintiff to establish that the sexual abuse was the sole cause of the injury. If there are multiple potential causes of the injury, the sexual abuse need only be “a” cause of the injury or loss, not “the” cause of the injury or loss, for the defendant to be fully liable2.

It is often impossible to parse out which trauma caused which psychological problem. This is called an indivisible loss. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the issue of indivisible losses in the case of G.(E.D.) v. Hammer3. In that case the plaintiff was abused by a janitor as a child. Subsequently, she was sexually abused by others. The Court found the janitor liable for the damages caused by all of the abuse and stated: “The law does not excuse a defendant from liability merely because other causal factors for which he is not responsible also helped produce the harm.”

Therefore, where there are multiple potential causes of a plaintiff’s indivisible injury (i.e. their psychological condition), so long as the defendant’s conduct was a cause of the harm, that defendant can be held liable for all of the harm.

Overall, there are many legal tools available to assist victims of abuse with holding their perpetrator accountable through a civil lawsuit. For more information feel free to reach out to a lawyer at Beckett Injury Lawyers.

1. Sacks v Ross, 2017 ONCA 773 at paras 90 to 132.

2. Athey v Leonati, [1996] SCJ No 102 at para 17.

3. E.D.G. v. Hammer, 2003 SCC 52.

Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

June 12, 2024

Compensation for Victims of Sexual Misconduct: Economic Damages

As noted in a past blog post, many of those who have experienced sexual violence often do not realize that they are entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Read More
Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

June 12, 2024

Stay Safe While Running: Essential Tips Every Jogger Should Know

As the weather warms up and daylight extends into the evening hours, many people are eager to lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement.

Read More
Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

May 27, 2024

The Role of Expert Witnesses in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs must present various forms of evidence, including medical records, photographs, and testimony, to support their claims. Expert witnesses, such as engineers, doctors, accountants, and life care planners, provide crucial opinion evidence that helps clarify complex issues for the judge and jury. Read today's blog to learn more.

Read More