Proximate Cause and Negligence

Posted by on Apr 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Personal injury lawsuits have been on the rise in the US ever since the concept of liability was raised to protect the rights of the innocent bystander from the consequences of a third party’s actions.  While tort (wrongdoing) law has a long history, it has really only entered into the general public’s consciousness since the 1970s, but when it did it gained rapid ground. Yet there are some common misconceptions about personal injury litigation.

Two of the major concepts in a personal injury lawsuit are negligence and proximate cause. Negligence is defined as the act or the failure to act of a reasonable person resulting in foreseeable harm to another person. It is not enough that a person is negligent, however. The rule is that the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit must prove that there was negligence by a third party and that this negligence was a proximate cause of serious injury.  It does not have to be the sole or even ultimate cause of the injury as long as the negligence can be connected to the injury in some way.

For example, in dram shop laws in any of the 38 states that enforce it in the US, the business establishment that fails to cut off a customer who is obviously inebriated or nearly so can be held liable for injuries resulting from a drunk driving accident.  The bar owner is said to owe a duty to the public to refuse service to an individual who may have had “one too many.”

Is it possible that even if the bar owner had refused service to the customer that the accident may have still happened? Yes, but that does not relieve the bar owner of liability for not cutting off the customer. In such cases, the “but-for” cause of action is not applicable, because the action of the bar owner increased the risk of a foreseeable event such as a car accident.

Proving negligence and proximate can be complicated, and can add to the struggle that a victim will have to contend with on top of all the other problems associated with serious injury. It is advisable to have an experienced and knowledgeable legal team on board to help in proving the case and bring the case to a just and satisfactory conclusion.

One Comment

  1. 10-29-2014

    Personal injury is serious business and I am grateful that someone is writing about it.

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