Cause in Fact and Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury Lawsuit | LegalMatch Law Library
issues is a two-part test: (1) causation in fact and (2) proximate cause. Courts .. Judge Jacobs found no connection between plaintiffs' loss and the Busi. In law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to an injury that the courts deem the event to be the cause of that injury. There are two types of causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate (or Any damages would then be divided according to the market share ratio. Since but-for causation is very easy to show. In case law, most courts still discuss “proximate” or “legal cause,” as whether there cause of the accident/incident/event and of the injury/loss/harm allegedly to.
It is the strictest test of causation, made famous by Benjamin Cardozo in Palsgraf v.
Long Island Railroad Co. For example, a pedestrian, as an expected user of sidewalks, is among the class of people put at risk by driving on a sidewalk, whereas a driver who is distracted by another driver driving on the sidewalk, and consequently crashes into a utility pole, is not.
When it is used, it is used to consider the class of people injured, not the type of harm. The main criticism of this test is that it is preeminently concerned with culpability, rather than actual causation.
Two examples will illustrate this principle: The classic example is that of a father who gives his child a loaded gun, which she carelessly drops upon the plaintiff's foot, causing injury. The plaintiff argues that it is negligent to give a child a loaded gun and that such negligence caused the injury, but this argument fails, for the injury did not result from the risk that made the conduct negligent.
The risk that made the conduct negligent was the risk of the child accidentally firing the gun; the harm suffered could just as easily have resulted from handing the child an unloaded gun.Causation (Cause-in-Fact and Proximate)
The story is that during the lunch rush, the can explodes, severely injuring the chef who is preparing food in the kitchen. The chef sues the owner for negligence.
The chef may not recover. Storing rat poison above the grill was negligent because it involved the risk that the chef might inadvertently mistake it for a spice and use it as an ingredient in a recipe.
You run a red light.
Another driver overreacts and swerves violently to avoid a collision. This driver strikes a building containing hazardous chemicals and starts a fire. Fumes from the fire seriously sicken a resident of a nearby apartment building.
In this case, you could argue that the fume-related injuries were not foreseeable. For example, suppose you run a red light, and rear-end another vehicle.
- Cause in Fact and Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The other driver has a brittle bone disorder and the collision causes a leg fracture. You cannot use the brittle bone disorder as a defense. Contributory negligence and assumption of risk are defenses in a personal injury lawsuit.
For example, a truck driver negligently crashes into a house.
Due to the impact, a piece of plaster falls from the ceiling of a house and onto the homeowner, injuring him. The truck driver's negligence is the proximate cause of the homeowner's injury because injury to an occupant of the house is a foreseeable result of crashing a truck into the house.
Note that the particular injury and the manner in which the injury occurs do not have to be foreseeable in order to constitute proximate cause. Crashing into the house is the proximate cause of the homeowner's injury because it was foreseeable that some sort of injury would occur. The pedestrian is uninjured but stunned. He walks around the block to clear his head, and he is injured by a rabid dog. In this scenario, the bicycle rider's negligence is not the proximate cause of the pedestrian's injury because being attacked by a dog is not the foreseeable result of a bicycle accident.
Concurrent Causes When two or more negligent acts contribute to a plaintiff's injuries, those acts are called "concurrent causes.