The Role of Proximate Cause in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury laws may look simple from a general point of view, but they can get very complicated once you decide to take a closer look at the specifics of any particular case. In this post, we are going to discuss one such aspect of the personal injury laws in United States, which is of course, the proximate cause.

What is Proximate Cause?

In some personal injury lawsuits, there are two primary causations to consider.

  1. Actual Cause
  2. Proximate Cause

The actual cause is just that, which is to say that it’s the directly responsible cause that led to the personal injury. If a car breaks applicable traffic laws and ends up hitting another car that was in line with all applicable traffic laws, then the actual cause of the personal injury caused to the victim is the lawbreaker’s action.

A proximate cause would be the secondary reason that led the driver to become the lawbreaker. It’s the cause behind the actual cause that led to the incident and the personal injury. If the driver ended up hitting the other car or a pedestrian because their car tires slipped on an icy road and the brakes failed to stop the car in time as a result, then that would be cited as the proximate cause in our example.

Role of Proximate Cause (Defendant)

Proving the prosecuted party’s partial or complete lack of responsibility for the harm they caused is possible by citing a proximate cause. For example, if the defendant is able to prove that their tires did indeed slip on the ice and there is nothing that they should have or could have legally done to prevent the crash beforehand, then the defendant cannot be held liable.

Depending on the state rules, there could be room for partial negligence here. For example, even if their tires slipped on the ice, should they have previously fitted the car with slip-resistant tires? If there is such a law in the state/council/city for certain months and the car owner failed to adhere to that law, then the role of proximate cause will still hold them partially at fault.

Role of Proximate Cause (Prosecutor)

Based on the particulars of a case, the prosecuting party may actually be able to use a proximate cause to gain an upper hand, as well as greater compensation for their personal injury. For example, did the driver of the offending car break the traffic laws because he/she was intoxicated? In that case, both the actual and the proximate cause go against the defendant.

However, the proximate cause can actually go in favor of both the defendant and victim in some cases. For example, did the driver of the offending vehicle crash into the other car because their anti-slip tires failed them completely? Did their braking mechanism fail because of an inherent fault in the vehicle’s engineering? If any of this can be established in a court of law, then the blame will shift to the tire manufacturer or vehicle manufacturer, based on the proximate cause.

As you can probably see from these examples, it is neither easy, nor legally viable to determine causation without the necessary legal expertise and experience. If you have any reason to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Tennessee, contact us at Injured In Tennessee for a free consultation on (615) 806-6561. You can also find us at the following address: 814 S Church St. Suite 210, Murfreesboro, TN 37130.

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