Proximate cause is used as the determining liability factor against a defendant when dealing with personal injury law. Causation in fact, a term within determining proximate cause, defines the occurrence as the direct cause. Without that, the accident or event would not be considered actual, due to the lack of evidence. A clear cause of an act can immediately determine the culpability of a defendant, or absolve them from it.
Having clear and articulate evidence creates an easier and faster paced process in a negligence case under personal injury law. The scope of the problem with proximate cause lies in a few different areas, especially in its name. The name given to the direct cause of an accident or incident leading into a breach with personal injury law is referred to as ‘proximate’. The term proximate has long been known to mean near, or in the vicinity of, not actual. This gives a misconception to the name from a variety of perspectives.
Unforeseeable consequences are occurrences that may not direct liability towards a defendant, unless proved intentional due to their unprecedented risk. The fact that the risks related to these consequential happenings are not clear and evident, makes it impossible for a defendant to be aware of them. By not being aware of these risks, a defendant could not have prevented the resulting cause.
Sometimes unforeseeable consequences occur due to an unforeseen intervening cause, which occurred at a time, happening to correlate with the breach of personal injury law. The absence of knowledge or existence of these factors relieves the liability of a defendant in accordance with personal injury law.
Intervening causes in a personal injury law case deal with contributing factors that interfere with the outcome of direct negligence. The negligence often alters the result of the original cause, and occurs at a different time. These causes have additional consequences to the plaintiff and may complicate their situation.
Intervening causes may not be attached to a defendant, especially if they are merely existent due to another contributing person or factor. Criminal acts are also considered intervening causes that pose a responsibility upon the defendant. The defendant must protect the persons under their duty or responsibility from breach of personal injury law, at any given time.
The purpose of a jury in a negligence case is to make a verdict based on the evidence presented. In the court, the jury reviews all evidence in terms of proximate cause, intervening causes, foreseeable/unforeseeable risks, etc. Using this information they then look at the responsibility or duty of a defendant and decide whether it was their ‘job’ to protect the plaintiff from the occurrence or accident that happened.
If it is decided that it was the defendant’s duty to conduct an act, they may be held negligible for the accident occurred. Once this happens, the defendant is liable for all damages that the plaintiff sustained.