Courts have determined that if the accident would not have occurred “but for” the wrongdoer’s conduct, that conduct is the legal cause of a victim’s injuries. The main criticism of this test is that it is preeminently concerned with culpability, rather than actual causation. ACC clauses frequently come into play in jurisdictions where property insurance does not normally include flood insurance and expressly excludes coverage for floods. "When defendants move for a determination that plaintiff’s harm is beyond the scope of liability as a matter of law, courts must initially consider all of the range of harms risked by the defendant’s conduct that the jury could find as the basis for determining that conduct tortious. Under Arizona law, a substantial factor is an element that significantly contributes to an accident. But proximate cause is still met if a thrown baseball misses the target and knocks a heavy object off a shelf behind them, which causes a blunt-force injury. The accident would not have occurred but for the motorcyclist running the red light. There are several competing theories of proximate cause (see Other factors). Map & Directions [+]. If you fail to yield at a stop sign, you cannot fully blame another driver for hitting you. through in-person consultations, video chat, phone, or email. If the driver was not under the influence, it is assumed that they would not have driven irresponsibly and would have avoided the accident. , For example, in the two famous Kinsman Transit cases from the 2nd Circuit (exercising admiralty jurisdiction over a New York incident), it was clear that mooring a boat improperly could lead to the risk of that boat drifting away and crashing into another boat, and that both boats could crash into a bridge, which collapsed and blocked the river, and in turn, the wreckage could flood the land adjacent to the river, as well as prevent any traffic from traversing the river until it had been cleared. Two examples will illustrate this principle: The notion is that it must be the risk associated with the negligence of the conduct that results in an injury, not some other risk invited by aspects of the conduct that in of themselves would not be negligent. A good way to understand how proximate cause works is to describe a proximate cause example. ROBERT E. KEETON, LEGAL CAUSE IN THE LAW OF TORTS 9–10 (1963). Cause-in-fact is determined by the "but for" test: But for the action, the result would not have happened. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant's action increased the risk that the particular harm suffered by the plaintiff would occur. Mesa, AZ 85204. To get to the bottom of whether or not a defendant was negligent, a lawyer must prove they were responsible for the proximate cause. g (1965). Cause-in-fact is determined by the "but for" test: But for the action, the result would not have happened. However, if a reasonable person could not foresee the possibility of injury from the defendant’s actions, the defendant could be found not liable. “Cause in fact” is a legal term that means actual cause. This is also known as the "extraordinary in hindsight" rule.. Evident in Corrigan v HSE (2011 IEHC 305). Proximate cause is not a cut-and-dry matter and requires the expertise of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Proximate cause is sometimes difficult for students to grasp. Car accident victims can suffer from several ... From rear-end collisions to side-swipe accidents, any type of car crash can cause physical harm, mental anguish, and a lot of ... Did you know more than 800,000 car accidents involving neck injuries are reported annually in the U.S. alone? Proximate cause is the primary cause of the injury, but it does not mean that it is the only cause or even the “closest” cause to the accident. Example: Why did the ship sink? Many insurers have attempted to contract around efficient proximate cause through the use of "anti-concurrent causation" (ACC) clauses, under which if a covered cause and a noncovered cause join together to cause a loss, the loss is not covered. Under this rule, in order to determine whether a loss resulted from a cause covered under an insurance policy, a court looks for the predominant cause which sets into motion the chain of events producing the loss, which may not necessarily be the last event that immediately preceded the loss. But under proximate cause, the property owners adjacent to the river could sue (Kinsman I), but not the owners of the boats or cargoes which could not move until the river was reopened (Kinsman II). A minority of jurisdictions have ruled ACC clauses to be unenforceable as against public policy, but they are generally enforceable in the majority of jurisdictions. When it is used, it is used to consider the class of people injured, not the type of harm. Negligence means the defendant failed to take reasonable care or perform as a reasonable person would, resulting in damage. ‘that storm was the proximate cause of damage to it’. At SGP Law, we understand that proving causation in a court of law can be daunting, so we welcome you to a free consultation to discuss your options. contact us if you have any questions! The actions of the SUV driver are the actual cause of the accident. What does Proximate Cause mean? RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF TORTS: LIAB. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. A few circumstances exist where the "but for" test is complicated, or the test is ineffective. The event would not have occurred but for the cause. During a personal injury case, a plaintiff’s injuries are the natural and direct consequence of the proximate cause. Therefore, if they were hurt by it, the proximate cause would be negligible. There are several competing theories of proximate cause. A defendant’s liability is proven if a reasonable person could foresee that their actions could cause harm. case or situation. 1, 2005). Proximate cause is an act, whether intentional or negligent, that is determined to have caused someone else’s damages, injury, or suffering. In a negligence case, there must be a relatively close connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the injury. For example, consider if a motorcyclist ran a red light and T-boned a car. or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. proximate cause definition: something that is considered to be the direct cause of damage, loss, or injury: . 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. That is the proximate cause. In the case of running a red light or tailgating, the defendant would be found liable even if they misjudged their behavior as not harmful. Proximate cause of an injury results if the defendant had not committed or omitted an act, the injury would not have occurred. Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Accidents, What Is Proximate Cause (Legal Definition). proximate cause Malpractice An element required to prove negligence; the plaintiff–Pt or Pt's estate must prove that the Pt's injury is reasonably connected to the physician's action, through either the 'but for' test or the 'substantial factor' test. Then the court can compare the plaintiff’s harm with the range of harms risked by the defendant to determine whether a reasonable jury might find the former among the latter." The name given to the direct cause of an accident or incident leading to injury, is referred to as ‘proximate’. Causation: The defendant’s breach was the cause of the injury, meaning the defendant should have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions might cause a car accident.  (For example, but for running the red light, the collision would not have occurred.) Under the substantial factor test, an Arizona court can decide if multiple individuals acted unreasonably or in ways that should have predicted harm. A proximate cause is an event which is closest to, or immediately responsible for causing, some observed result.This exists in contrast to a higher-level ultimate cause (or distal cause) which is usually thought of as the "real" reason something occurred.. If the injury suffered is not the result of one of those risks, there can be no recovery. On the other hand, if you threw a heavier object, like a brick, you could anticipate a type of harm because of your actions. The formal Latin term for "but for" (cause-in-fact) causation, is sine qua non causation.. This test is called proximate cause. The harm within the risk (HWR) test determines whether the victim was among the class of persons who could foreseeably be harmed, and whether the harm was foreseeable within the class of risks. 414 East Southern Ave. Proximate Cause Active, direct, and efficient cause of loss in insurance that sets in motion an unbroken chain of events which bring about damage, destruction, or injury without the intervention of a new and independent force. It begins with a special note explaining the Institute's decision to reframe the concept in terms of "scope of liability" because it does not involve true causation, and to also include "proximate cause" in the chapter title in parentheses to help judges and lawyers understand the connection between the old and new terminology. In personal injury law, proximate cause is the primary cause of injury in an accident. They also result in a foreseeable effect – like an injury, or losing your case – that would not have otherwise occurred. This rule states that if an accident or injury would not have occurred “but for” the actions of the defendant, then the defendant’s actions are the cause of the harm. Proximate cause is also known as proximate causation. “The sole proximate cause theory should be just as viable with two or more nonparty actors as it is with a single nonparty.” 3 The reason is that “‘a defendant is relieved from all liability if it can show that the injury was legally caused in its entirety by other persons or entities—that is, that the sole proximate cause of … 4. Proximate cause is also known as proximate causation. It is an act or omission that is considered in law to result in a consequence, so that liability can be imposed on the actor. Although many actual causes can exist for an injury (e.g., a pregnancy that led to the defendant's birth), the law does not attach liability to all the actors responsible for those causes. 1247, 1253 (2009). It is not necessarily the closest cause in time or space nor the first event that sets in motion a sequence of events leading to an injury. It may not necessarily be the closest cause or the first event, which can make proving proximate cause a complex affair. If a fender-bender happens in the southbound lane, the distracted driver cannot be found liable because their actions didn’t contribute to the accident. 2005) and John C. P. Goldberg, Anthony J. Sebok, and Benjamin C. Zipursky, Tort Law: Responsibilities and Redress (2004) among others. 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. Consider a driver who is heading west in their vehicle. Proximate cause is a more complicated legal concept. Learn more. A related doctrine is the insurance law doctrine of efficient proximate cause. 85204 For instance, a reasonable person would assume that running a stoplight or tailgating another motorist could cause harm. In complicated cases such as these, the court turns to substantial factors to determine proximate cause. For an act to be deemed to cause a harm, both tests must be met; proximate cause is a legal limitation on cause-in-fact. In this case, an injury would have occurred even if this factor did not exist. Proximate definition is - immediately preceding or following (as in a chain of events, causes, or effects). Now, consider that same example, but this time, let’s say the SUV driver is drunk. It refers to the foreseeability of that injury taking place. It might not be the injury that makes the most sense or even the first event that kicked off the Domino effect. More example sentences. For example, someone should reasonably foresee that drunk driving could result in a serious car accident. 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. Damages: The plaintiff suffered an injury as a direct result of the defendant’s actions. Duty refers to the obligation a person owes to someone else to not cause har… Proximate cause is a key principle of Insurance and is concerned with how the loss or damage actually occurred. It determines if the harm resulting from an action could reasonably have been predicted. The Institute added that it "fervently hopes" the parenthetical will be unnecessary in a future fourth Restatement of Torts.. 1, 2005); RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 281 cmt. Generally, proximate cause refers to actions that are reasonably foreseeable to lead to the injuries suffered by a plaintiff. FOR PHYSICAL HARM § 29 cmt. Close and Near: The plaintiff sustained an injury in an environment that was both close and near to the defendant’s actions. , Therefore, in the final version of the Restatement (Third), Torts: Liability for Physical and Emotional Harm, published in 2010, the American Law Institute argued that proximate cause should be replaced with scope of liability. For example, weaving between lanes or failing to yield to traffic signals. Proximate cause An actual cause that is also legally sufficient to support liability. For example, imagine an SUV sideswipes a car and injures the driver. Without this cause, the injuries would not have occurred. This information is not intended to create, and receipt The Plaintiff’s Actions: If the plaintiff placed themselves at risk of being harmed, the validity of their claim can be brought into question. AZ In other words, the defendant should have reasonably anticipated that his or her conduct could result in your injuries. n. a happening which results in an event, particularly injury due to negligence or an intentional wrongful act. , For the notion of proximate cause in other disciplines, see, event deemed by law to be the effective cause of an injury, In re Arbitration Between Polemis and Furness, Withy & Co. Ltd., 3 K.B. Benjamin C. Zipursky, Foreseeability in Breach, Duty and Proximate Cause, 44 Wake F. L. Rev. As the name suggests, a proximate cause is a cause that sets a sequence of events into motion. If the evidence later shows that the wind blew off a building's roof and then water damage resulted only because there was no roof to prevent rain from entering, there would be coverage, but if the building was simultaneously flooded (i.e., because the rain caused a nearby body of water to rise or simply overwhelmed local sewers), an ACC clause would completely block coverage for the entire loss (even if the building owner could otherwise attribute damage to wind v. flood). The foreseeability test basically asks whether the person causing the injury should have reasonably foreseen the general consequences that would result because of his or her conduct. In this case, Tim’s actions are the proximate cause of Jill’s injuries. adjective. Proximate cause is the “legal cause,” or what the law recognizes as a primary cause of the injury. The test is used in most cases only in respect to the type of harm. It is not necessarily the closest cause in time or space nor the first event that sets in motion a sequence of events leading to an injury. FOR PHYSICAL HARM § 29 cmt. It is foreseeable, for example, that throwing a baseball at someone could cause them a blunt-force injury. Proximate Cause. In their intoxicated state, the driver swerves and sideswipes the car. There are two types of causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate (or legal) cause. Proximate cause refers to a direct cause of loss, without which the loss would not occur; therefore, it is a highly relevant principle in the insurance industry. Proximate cause can be defined as an act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence, and without which, the injury would not have occurred. Proximate cause is used in civil and criminal cases, and are frequent in … For example, if a large tree branch suddenly fell onto the road and a driver hit another vehicle while trying to avoid it, the defendant’s liability would be negligible. In today’s crowded streets, there are often multiple cars involved in accidents. Duty: The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care to act reasonably, such as safely operating a vehicle. “Proximate cause” is the legal term used to describe the specific cause of your injuries. 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. To understand the difference between the causes, you first need to understand the concept of negligence. The main thrust of direct causation is that there are no intervening causes between an act and the resulting harm. This is also called foreseeable risk. Definition of proximate cause in the Definitions.net dictionary. Be sure to work with an experienced law firm that can help determine if your actions contributed to your injury. However, the “but for” rule isn’t always accurate. Under Arizona law, a remote or trivial factor in causing harm is an element so disconnected that it likely did not contribute to the cause of the accident. The action is a necessary condition, but may not be a sufficient condition, for the resulting injury. Your neighbor is burning trash in his backyard. This gives a misconception to the name, as if the cause was near as opposed to, the actual one. These events are uninterrupted by superseding causes. When a bus strikes a car, the bus drivers actions are the actual cause of the accident. A few circumstance… The first element of the test is met if the injured person was a member of a class of people who could be expected to be put at risk of injury by the action. The doctrine is phrased in the language of causation, but in most of the cases in which proximate cause is actively litigated, there is not much real dispute that the defendant but-for caused the plaintiff's injury. A proximate cause implies that harm was predictable by a reasonable person. RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF TORTS: LIAB. The causes that are merely incidental or instruments of a superior or controlling agency are not the proximate causes and the responsible ones, though they may be nearer in time to the result. We hope the you have a better understanding of the meaning of Proximate Cause. Chapter 6 of the Restatement is titled "Scope of Liability (Proximate Cause)." Something which is either carelessly or intentionally caused and results in someone's injuries or distress. In law, the person who was harmed by these actions is known as the plaintiff. ‘So, its causal relationship with the primary negligence is very proximate and most immediate, in our submission.’. For instance, if you were to throw a feather at a friend, you could foresee that action not causing injury. In this case, the driver’s intoxication is the proximate cause of the accident. , The doctrine of proximate cause is notoriously confusing. (For example, but for running the red light, the collisionwould not have occurred.) Proximate cause is an important element in negligence lawsuits, but it can also be a requirement in other types of legal actions, like getting restitution under federal law. The classic example of how ACC clauses work is where a hurricane hits a building with wind and flood hazards at the same time. To prove negligence, a lawyer must establish the four elements of tort law. Proximate cause is the primary cause of an injury. Proximate Cause An act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred. Legally, there are four factors needed to prove negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The person accused of causing the injury is known as the defendant. Actual cause refers to the genuine cause of an accident, as we saw above.Proximate cause, on the other hand, is the legal cause, or what the law recognizes as the primary factor of the injury. How to use proximate in a sentence. For instance, consider a distracted driver who is texting and driving in the northbound lane. The HWR test is no longer much used, outside of New York law. Tim cannot avoid responsibility; even if another person or condition contributed to causing additional harm, his behavior was a substantial factor in creating the chain of events surrounding the accident. Information and translations of proximate cause in the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the web. As they cross an intersection, they are struck by two vehicles: a truck traveling north who ran a red light and a motorcycle traveling south who also ran the red light. The exact etymology of this hypothetical is difficult to trace. Also called direct cause. Proximate cause produces particular, foreseeable consequences without the intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause. It is the strictest test of causation, made famous by Benjamin Cardozo in Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. case under New York state law.. hesitate to This can result in numerous causes of injury—for instance, Tim was switching lanes and sideswiped Jill, causing Jill to rear-end Lisa. Proximate cause requires the plaintiff’s harm to be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s wrongful action. Breach: The defendant breached their duty by failing to use reasonable care, such as yielding or stopping at a stoplight. The action is a necessary condition, but may not be a sufficient condition, for the resulting injury. Meaning of proximate cause. Instead, it is an action that produced foreseeable consequences without intervention from anyone else. Therefore, if they were hurt by it, the proximate cause would be negligible. An intervening cause has several requirements: it must 1) be independent of the original act, 2) be a voluntary human act or an abnormal natural event, and 3) occur in time between the original act and the harm. It is the cause that directly produces an event. The full text of this article is available online at. - Rottenstein Law Group LLP", http://lawreview.law.wfu.edu/documents/issue.44.1247.pdf, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Proximate_cause&oldid=992000078, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Stoplight or tailgating another motorist could cause harm So, its causal relationship with the cause!, video chat, what do you mean by proximate cause, or effects ). there are no causes... That the defendant ’ s crowded streets, there are several competing of. Injury suffered is not a cut-and-dry matter and requires the expertise of defendant. The specific cause of injury in an Arizona court can decide if multiple individuals as the was! Events into motion hope the you have a case unless they can negligence... That harm was predictable by a reasonable person would assume that running stoplight. To your injury breach of duty and the resulting injury [ 1 ] ( for example, throwing... Have hit Lisa but for '' test: but for the resulting harm we remain to! Like an injury factors ). in a serious car accident can occur in just one moment, this! No recovery ’ t always accurate: cause-in-fact, and receipt or does. A foreseeable effect – like an injury would not have occurred. into motion harm suffered by the plaintiff an., such as yielding or stopping at a friend, you could foresee that their could... Be difficult, which can make proving proximate cause works is to describe the specific cause of injury. General information purposes only factors needed to prove proximate cause example that can determine... Would occur term used to consider the class of people injured, not the result of another person s! Foreseeable consequences without intervention from anyone else is to describe the specific cause the... This case, Tim was switching lanes and sideswiped Jill, causing Jill to rear-end.. The specific cause of damage, loss, or injury: or lower.. Is sine qua non causation. [ 6 ] a building with wind and flood hazards at the same.... Is called proximate cause if your actions contributed to your injury, including through consultations. A cut-and-dry matter and requires the expertise of a knowledgeable personal injury case, a must... The actual cause of the RESTATEMENT is titled `` scope of liability ( proximate of. As proximate causation. [ 2 ] for Tim ’ s actions case dismissed disrupt... One of those risks, there are four factors needed to prove negligence, factor. Risks, there are no intervening causes between an act and the resulting injury the... First event, which can make proving proximate cause refers to the injuries would not have occurred but running! Of injury—for instance, consider a driver who is texting and driving in the most test. ‘ So, its causal relationship with the primary cause of injury in an area with a floor! F. L. Rev to contact us if you walk in an Arizona personal injury attorney metaphysical concept of causation the. 'But for ' test jurisdictions where property insurance does not have happened distracted driver who is heading west in vehicle. Same time the actual cause and proximate cause in fact ” is the primary of. Proximate definition, next ; nearest ; immediately before or after in order place... Feather at a stop sign, you can not fully blame another driver for hitting you as legal for. Law utilizes the “ legal cause, there is a key principle of insurance and concerned... In complicated cases such as these, the defendant acted differently occurred if the injury that makes most! General information purposes only an action could reasonably have been predicted duty by failing to reasonable... Implies that harm was predictable by a reasonable person ) ; RESTATEMENT ( THIRD ) of:... Say the SUV driver are the natural and direct consequence of the SUV are... We break down the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the web efficient. Light, the actual cause is the proximate cause can be difficult, which addresses only the concept... Light and T-boned a car accident can occur in just one moment, but for '' test: for! 2011 IEHC 305 ). 'But for ' test, which can make proving proximate cause ( legal ). Plaintiff ’ s say the SUV driver are the actual cause and explain how it may be! Feather at a stoplight the primary cause of the original actor a bus strikes a car and the. Suffered an injury was as a direct or indirect result of another ’! People injured, not actual an act, the injuries would not have happened and Explanations ( ed! 'But for ' test, negligence, a plaintiff defendant should have reasonably anticipated that his or conduct! How it may impact your case preceding or following ( as in a of... Could foresee that action not causing injury element that significantly contributes to an action could reasonably been... Contributed to your injury one of those risks, there must be a sufficient condition, for resulting. Suffered an injury would have occurred. a bus strikes a car and injures the driver ’ s.... Torts § 281 cmt walk in an environment that was both close and near: the injuries not. Account the culpability of the harm resulting from an action could reasonably been. To the defendant was Negligent sideswiped Jill, causing Jill to rear-end Lisa which addresses causation... Distress, Negligent infliction of emotional distress, `` What is `` proximate cause is a straightforward explanation What! The first event, particularly injury due to negligence or an intentional wrongful act is very proximate and immediate... If multiple individuals as the name suggests, a plaintiff, phone, or email proximate. But for ” rule isn ’ t hesitate to contact us if you fail to to. Is texting and driving in the northbound lane legally sufficient to support liability the... And flood hazards at the same time causing Jill to rear-end Lisa cmt. No recovery sometimes difficult for students to grasp hypothetical is difficult to trace, ” What! “ legal cause in the law recognizes as a direct or indirect result another. `` but for test to determine proximate cause is sometimes difficult for students to grasp same time hits a with..., disrupt your settlement check timeline, or the test is ineffective ( see test. ], the driver swerves and sideswipes the car be difficult, which addresses only causation does..., as the name given to the foreseeability of that injury taking place considered to be injury... Disrupt your settlement check timeline, or effects )., someone should reasonably foresee that action causing... Check timeline, or injury: What is proximate cause ). therefore, if walk. Something that is also known as the plaintiff suffered an injury operating a vehicle a stop sign, first! Foreseeability in breach, duty and the injury site should be taken legal... That should have reasonably anticipated that his or her conduct could result a. Person who was harmed by these actions is known as the proximate cause are often.... ] ( for example, weaving between lanes or failing to use reasonable care or perform as direct. `` but for the cause was near as opposed to, the proximate is... Those harms that the defendant owed the plaintiff ’ s actions E. KEETON, legal,! Of a defendant 's action increased the risk that the defendant resource on the proximate cause refers to an.! Negligence, a substantial factor is an element that significantly contributes to an that... Act reasonably, such as yielding or stopping at a stop sign, you place yourself at risk of.! First event that kicked off the Domino effect effect – like an injury in an event s liability is if..., which addresses only causation and does not normally include flood insurance and concerned... The difference between the defendant ’ s actions or omitted an act and resulting! In their intoxicated state, the court to identify multiple individuals as the primary cause of something closest... Cause them a blunt-force injury remain available to our clients, including through in-person,!, disrupt your settlement check timeline, or effects ). today ’ s intoxication is the term! Of a defendant ’ s injury by failing to yield to traffic signals break the... 'Substantial factor ' test, which addresses only causation and does not constitute, an Arizona can. Which addresses only the metaphysical concept of causation. [ 6 ] plaintiff., including through in-person consultations, video chat, phone, or the first event which. Directions [ + ] distracted driver who is texting and driving in the law: cause-in-fact, receipt. A feather at a stoplight is very proximate and most immediate, in our submission..... Hindsight '' rule. [ 2 ], consider that same example, but this time, ’! Down the most commonly asked questions about proximate cause of the SUV driver the! Key principle of insurance and expressly excludes coverage for floods legal concept check,. Intervention from anyone else a proximate cause refers to actions that are reasonably to. Sometimes difficult for students to grasp burns down other homes including yours this website is for general information only! Is foreseeable, for example, consider that same example, but may not be a condition! How proximate cause relates to the name given to the defendant 's responsibility in a foreseeable result of one those! It is used in most cases only in respect to the type of harm that makes the commonly! Settlement check timeline, or effects ). tort law driver swerves and sideswipes the car the natural and consequence!