Understanding Foreseeability: Factors In Negligence

Personal Injury Attorney

There are many forms of negligence in a personal injury case from medical malpractice to nursing home abuse and what these all have in common is that the cause of injury can be attributed to an actual person who performed an action either intently or unintentionally which resulted in the injury itself. As an experienced personal injury attorney from Eric Roy Law Firm can explain, in arguments, it’s more important than when proving negligence that an attorney not only prove the cause of the injury but the proximate cause as well (otherwise known as the legal cause). The proximate cause as well as the extent of the cause must need to be foreseeable in order to form a solid argument and trying to link a person with events that aren’t foreseeable is stretching a story to pile on liability onto the opposing party.

But what is Foreseeability? When determining foreseeability, one asks whether the person involved in causing the accident could have reasonably foreseen the consequences that would result from their misconduct. This isn’t in the manner of “prophecy” as in someone foreseeing days ahead that they’re going to get into a car crash, but rather the knowing that if they have one too many drinks at a party, that the probability of them getting into an accident is higher if they decide to get behind the wheel and try to drive themselves home.

The opposite of a foreseeable cause is a superseding cause. These causes break the link between the negligent act and the injury and it is possible for a superseding act to be completely unrelated to either the injury or negligent act; if not that the event can just be lightly related or another event that happens in the general area. Say for instance, a person slipped and fell inside a grocery store and got back up disoriented. Another person then takes advantage of their confusion and decides to mug them by using a blunt weapon on their head causing head trauma. What happens during arguments is that the attorney will try to link the superseding act and the opposing party together as opposed to linking them with a foreseeable act. So in this case an attorney would try to sue for damages in a slip in fall case regarding their client’s head trauma when the mugging that caused it is an event that could not be foreseen.

Along with third-person burglaries and thefts, other superseding events include intentional torts of third person’s as well as “man-induced” disasters and natural disasters like earthquakes or forest fires. You can’t link negligence to the opposing party in these cases because these events cant be foreseen.