superseding intervening cause example

The family filed a civil lawsuit, naming a host of defendants, including the landlord, the manufacturer of the smoke alarms, the home builder, the electrician, and the city inspector. The term superseding cause refers to some event that occurs after the initial act that caused an accident, or some other injury. Additionally, a superseding act must have occurred after the original actor’s negligent act was committed. Quinn seeks payment for his totaled car, as well as for his medical bills, and pain and suffering, to the tune of more than $10,000. Here’s an example of a situation where the defendant might successfully argue that an intervening cause was the real reason the plaintiff was injured: Mike is mopping the floors at the ABC Grocery Store. In this case, the intervening event was the real reason the injury was suffered. To explore this concept, consider the following superseding cause definition. Manny agrees to keep Ron’s horse in his corral for a week while Ron moves. For example, imagine that a city fails to fill in a pothole and a car’s tire is damaged after driving over it. Quinn is in an automobile accident, which was caused by Brenda’s running a stop sign. Copyright © 2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. An intervening cause is a separate action that breaks the direct connection between the actions of the defendant and a loss or injury to another person. ... For example, the culpability of the third person committing ... determining whether an intervening force is a superseding cause of harm to the. Please reference the Terms of Use and the Supplemental Terms for specific information related to your state. In this case, Henry is still the factual cause of Mary’s death, because he chased her into the shed where she was eventually killed. Sparks from the fire cause Petrol's truck to explode, sending the fire on the way to Rancher's barns and home, which burn down. As a result, intervening cause may be used as a legal defense in a civil lawsuit. In some cases, this may remove liability from the defendant, but the event has to meet certain requirements. An intervening cause is any event that occurs after the defendant’s actions and caused harm to the plaintiff. If, after the defendant acts negligently toward the plaintiff, a new cause combines with the defendant’s negligence to contribute to or worsen the plaintiff’s injury, that new cause is sometimes called an "intervening cause." Here is how to conduct an analysis to determine if a defendant is still liable in the presence of one or more intervening … The critical issue of fault in a personal injury case usually comes down to proving that someone was negligent in connection with the underlying accident or incident. A defendant's superseding intervening cause argument was characterized by that court as "nothing more than an improper attempt to inject comparative negligence principles into this strict product liability action." Quinn’s car is damaged in the front quarter panel. See People v.Acosta for a great example.. Intervening and superseding causes—which occur when the action of a third party, or even an act of nature, play a role in causing the plaintiff’s injury—disrupt this so-called "causal chain" and can diminish or even wipe out the defendant's liability, which means intervening and superseding causes can reduce or eliminate your ability to get fair compensation ("damages") for your injuries. There are three ways to categorize cause in any situation in which someone experiences a loss due to someone else’s actions. Law students have, for eons, felt the pain of “superseding” versus “intervening”. Mary escapes Henry and hides in an abandoned shed. In a civil lawsuit in which a defendant has done something negligent that caused the plaintiff’s damages, it is possible for the defendant to avoid liability. Let’s say a person is getting off a bus in a parking lot. She claimed that his own actions amounted to contributory negligence, and should be considered a superseding cause, relieving her of liability for the man’s death. A superseding cause is very similar to an intervening cause, in that it refers to a subsequent event that causes, or adds to the severity of, the damages. An intervening act will be called a superseding cause (or act) that relieves the original defendant of liability when the intervening act was or should have been reasonably foreseeable to the original defendant. For example, assume that contractor A was responsible for fencing or marking a hole in the ground and negligently fails to do so while contractor B is working in the hole. While Quinn’s damages and injuries could be foreseen as the result of Brenda running the stop sign, the impact of a tow truck that happened by could not. Superseding cause might be thought of as being a step above intervening cause. An event that occurs after a party's improper or dangerous action and before the damage that could otherwise have been caused by the dangerous act, thereby breaking the chain of causation between the original act and the harm to the injured person. The horse is severely injured. While the answer to this test establishes proximate cause, it does not necessarily establish who is liable for the plaintiff’s damages, as other factors could have come into play. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. Proximate cause refers to the act that most directly resulted in someone’s damages or injury. The landlord had finished the basement, though he did so without obtaining the required permits. For example, an adult leaves a loaded gun on a table, where there are children playing nearby. The next natural question is, what is a superseding cause? Review the example with Henry and Mary in Section 4 “Example of Legal Causation”. Manny puts the horse in a pen has a section of fence that is damaged, and falling apart. The Essential Law Dictionary. What sets an intervening cause apart from a superseding cause (discussed below) is that it is a foreseeable outcome of the person’s actions. out of proximate causation: superseding and intervening causation, and the medical malpractice complications rule. Intervening Cause and Superseding Cause. The intervening cause must occur between the defendant’s negligent act and the plaintiff’s injury, and it must have caused injury to the plaintiff. What Happens when a Cause is determined to be an Independent or Superseding Cause? This might be done by proving there was some other event that happened after his act that led to the accident, or to the plaintiff’s damages, at least in substantial part. Do Not Sell My Personal Information. For example, if Daniel left a candle burning in his apartment while he was at work, and, subsequently, a burglar broke into his apartment and knocked the candle over, burning down the entire building, Daniel would likely not be liable for injuries sustained because the burglar was an unforeseeable, superseding cause. The high winds and abandoned refrigerator in this example are a superseding cause – something that simply could not have been foreseen, and which occurred after Manny put the horse into a damaged pen. n. An intervening cause that substantially affects the ultimate outcome of the series of events and breaks the chain of causation between the direct cause and the effect. While the person who committed the act considered to be the proximate cause of a plaintiff’s damages is held liable, he may escape being held liable if he can show that some subsequent event – the intervening cause – was actually the cause of the damages or injury. Part II will discuss cases in which courts have considered superseding cause as a defense against liability for failure to diagnose, setting forth the courts’ justifications for either permitting or rejecting the defense. But in this situation, the actions of the car driver may be considered a superseding cause of the passenger's injuries, whether or not the bus company could also be considered negligent. An intervening cause, such as the failure of a home builder to include sufficient exits from a home, may rise to the level of a superseding cause if it is so extraordinary or unusual that its interference, or consequences thereof, could not have been foreseen or anticipated. Change the example so that Henry pulls out a knife and chases Mary out of the garage. Let’s say that a homeowner digs a hole into a sidewalk and negligently leaves it open without any warning to pedestrians. To break this down, consider that very few occurrences happen in a vacuum. The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. In these jurisdictions intervening cause describes any cause that comes between a defendant's conduct and the resulting injury, and an intervening cause that relieves a defendant of liability is called a superseding cause. Both the smoke alarm manufacturer and the building contractor filed motions to dismiss, claiming that there were many events that occurred between their supposed negligence and the incident that caused the children’s deaths and injuries. (Get the basics on negligence in a personal injury case.). Like an intervening cause, a superseding cause occurs between the defendant’s action and the plaintiff’s injury, and it is also responsible for the injury. Meanwhile, the driver of a nearby car puts her vehicle in reverse and runs over the person who just got off the bus. A superseding cause, also known as an “intervening cause,” may be proven to have substantially caused the accident. In these jurisdictions intervening cause describes any cause that comes between a defendant's conduct and the resulting injury, and an intervening cause that relieves a defendant of liability is called a superseding cause. Proximate cause produces a consequences that is foreseeable, or even expected. An intervening cause will generally absolve the tortfeasor of liability for the victim's injury only if the event is deemed a superseding cause. While the circuit court granted the dismissals, the plaintiffs appealed. In doing this, it must be considered whether the damages or injury would not have happened but for the defendant’s negligent or reckless actions. Quinn files a civil lawsuit against Brenda because she ran the stop sign and hit him. An intervening cause occurs when there is some interruption between the defendant’s conduct and the ultimate harm or result. Learn why they are important and how to use them on an exam. intervening cause Primary tabs. Manny puts the horse in a pen has a section of fence that is damaged, and falling apart. The man died, and Butts, whose blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit even two hours after the accident, found herself convicted of negligent homicide. Butts claimed that the streetlight wasn’t working where the accident occurred, and that the man shouldn’t have been crossing the street wearing dark clothing, and not at a crosswalk. At trial, Brenda claims she cannot be held solely responsible, as the tow truck hitting Quinn’s car caused a great deal of the damages, and his injuries. Let’s look at an example of this. 1485-1405       Latin    supersedēre  (to sit above or upon). — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. Usually intervening causes are actions by a third party or natural occurrence that alter the circumstances of accident. The key difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause is foreseeability. A superseding cause sufficient to become the proximate cause of the final result and relieve defendant of liability for his original negligence, arises only when an intervening force was unforeseeable and may be described, with the benefit of hindsight, as extraordinary. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. In this example, superseding cause may enable Manny to escape liability for the horse’s demise. Not only was the victim directly injured by the defendant’s actions (no third party involved), but his act of walking across the street 90 feet from a crosswalk, and while intoxicated, occurred before, or perhaps concurrently with, the defendant’s negligent act of driving under the influence. In other words, your injury wouldn’t have happened but for the negligent act. Example of an Intervening Superseding Cause. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. An unforeseeable event that interrupts the chain of causation, becoming the actual cause of the accident. This is the biggest difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause. In 2007, a power outage occurred in a Maryland neighborhood, leaving residents in the dark. During a thunder storm, the horse is spooked, and runs through the damaged section, breaking his leg so severely that he has to be put down. The companies claimed that all of these events amounted to superseding causes that should absolve them of liability. The answer is probably no because the intervening action was (or should have been) reasonably foreseeable to the homeowner. However, the outcome of Manny’s actions in putting the horse in the damaged pen could reasonably lead to the injuries. Quinn’s car ended up totaled, and he suffered a broken arm, two broken ribs, and a severe neck strain. In addition to Kitter, which was used as an example above, another example of superseding intervening cause is Schultz v. Brogen. In this situation, a horse kept in a damaged corral is quite likely to escape, or to be injured. What sets an intervening cause apart from a superseding cause (discussed below) is that it is a foreseeable outcome of the person’s actions. This Agreement supersedes all prior agreements between you and the Company relating to the subject of your personal services and severance benefits, including the letter agreement dated September 14, 1993, which is hereby terminated.The provisions of this Agreement may only be amended by written instrument signed by you and a member of the Board of Directors. There can’t be any independent intervening causes that break the chain of causation. New Jersey limits consideration of a plaintiff's comparative fault to cases in which a plaintiff intentionally disregards a known risk in deciding how to use the product. This need not be the cause closest in time to the incident, nor even the first event to set off a sequence of events leading to the injury. In the building of the home, the builder did not finish the basement, and did not include additional exits, as it was never intended to serve as bedrooms. This has an effect on who should be held liable for the damages caused by the accident. A superseding cause is an unforeseeable intervening cause.By contrast, a foreseeable intervening cause typically does not break the chain of causality, meaning that the tortfeasor is still responsible for the victim's injury—unless the event leads to an unforeseeable result. If you leave an open hole in a sidewalk, it's reasonable to foresee someone falling into it, especially if the sidewalk is crowded. The second pedestrian was also likely negligent for crowding the plaintiff into the hole. In some jurisdictions, an intervening cause that removes liability is called a superseding cause. cause, superseding. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Proximate Cause, Superseding Cause, and Intervening Cause, Superseding Cause Example in Negligent Homicide, Example of Superseding Cause vs. Proximate Cause in House Fire. Manny might attempt to escape liability – and the hefty price tag for the horse – by claiming that the storm was an intervening cause that resulted in the horse’s injuries. The superseding intervening cause defense is one of the few defenses in Minnesota workers’ compensation law that can result in a complete bar to all benefits claimed that are attributable to the superseding event. In other words, a superseding cause is an intervening act that is legally sufficient to transfer blame for the harm in question from the defendant to a third party, or to a natural event. Further, the court explained that, in order for an act to be considered a superseding cause, it must be the act of someone or something other than the original actor and the victim. The bus passenger who got hit sues the bus company for failing to provide a safe place for passengers to disembark. An intervening cause is something that happens in between the defendant’s actions and the accident, and causes the injuries. Learn more about proving fault in a personal injury case. A superseding cause disrupts the causal chain because the link between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury no longer exists. Plaintiff's theory, of course, is that defendant's antecedent negligence caused plaintiff to be in the situation which [58 Cal. An intervening cause is any event in an accident that occurred after the actions of the defendant (i.e. For example: Manny agrees to keep Ron’s horse in his corral for a week while Ron moves. And as part of establishing the negligence, the injured person must show that the at-fault party's action (or inaction) was a cause (sometimes called a "proximate" cause in legalese) of the resulting injuries. Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. In order for the intervening cause to be deemed superseding and relieve the tortfeasor of liability, both the act/event and the injury must be unforeseeable. An intervening cause can be the action of another person (who is generally called a "third party"), and it can also be an act of nature, such as a branch falling from a tree or a weather-related event. 3d 664] exposed him to the peril of Shelton's action, and thus, plaintiff contends, defendant's negligence was also a "cause" of the injury. During the night a storm arises, and hurricane-force winds pick up an empty refrigerator in the neighbor’s yard, and hurls it at the horse, striking him, and forcing him into the damaged section of the fence. In March 2000, Teresa Butts was driving down a dark and rainy night, when she struck a homeless man crossing the street. Professors throw these terms around as if they are household words. It is the court’s job, once someone sues, to determine just who is responsible for the plaintiff’s damages, even if the responsibility must be divided. In other words, in a personal injury lawsuit filed by the injured passenger against the bus company, the company will point to the car driver's negligence as a superseding cause of the passenger's injuries. Under longstanding premises liability standards, the homeowner is almost certainly negligent for leaving an open hole in the sidewalk. Intervening and superseding causes—which occur when the action of a third party, or even an act of nature, play a role in causing the plaintiff’s injury—disrupt this so-called "causal chain" and can diminish or even wipe out the defendant's liability, which means intervening and superseding causes can reduce or eliminate your ability to get fair compensation ("damages") for your injuries. In this example, the superseding cause was the tow truck running into the already damaged vehicle. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Supplemental Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. One person makes a mistake, causing something bad to happen, then other things simply go wrong – sometimes by a different person’s mistake. In order for the intervening cause to be deemed superseding and relieve the tortfeasor of liability, both the act/event and the injury must be unforeseeable. However, Wes is probably the intervening superseding cause of Mary’s death because he interrupted the chain of events started by Henry. She appealed the conviction on a number of grounds, one of which was failure of the judge to instruct the jury properly regarding superseding and intervening cause. In this case, Manny cannot escape liability, even though there was an intervening cause. If the intervening cause is foreseeable, however, the defendant will still be liable. For instance, a house fire is a foreseeable consequence of allowing a young child to play with matches. A fellow pedestrian negligently fails to leave enough room for the plaintiff to pass on the sidewalk, and the plaintiff falls into the hole. Intervening Cause. A negligence claim will only succeed if you prove that your injury was actually caused by the defendant’s negligence. An intervening act, which is a normal response created by negligence, is not a superseding, intervening cause so as to relieve the original wrongdoer of liability, provided the intervening act could have reasonably been foreseen and the conduct was a substantial factor in … In contrast to an intervening cause, which does not relieve the original defendant of liability, a superseding cause usually does relieve the original defendant of liability. The court of appeals denied the motions to dismiss the home builder and smoke alarm manufacturer. Other jurisdictions do not use the term superseding cause. plaintiff, thus absolving defendant from liability: ‘(a) the fact that its … In response to these claims, the appellate court ruled that an intervening cause can only be considered a superseding cause if it was “so unforeseeable that the actor’s negligent conduct, though still a substantial causative factor, should not result in the actor’s liability.” The court held that the defendant could only be relieved of liability for the victim’s death if his own actions were the sole cause of his death. Understanding Independent Intervening Causes. A superseding cause is an unforeseeable intervening cause. The original defendant will usually still be considered at least partially liable for the plaintiff’s injury even when an intervening cause is said to exist. There are two types of intervening causes: foreseeable and unforeseeable. The appellate court found that a proximate cause relies on whether the original actor should have been able to foresee the danger or harm. Quinn just has time to realize his arm hurts before a tow truck, happening on the scene, rams into Quinn’s car, pushing it into a ditch. For example, assume that contractor A was responsible for fencing or marking a hole in the ground and negligently fails to … You’re right in the middle of one of the hardest parts of Torts (the proximate cause nightmare) and weird words are exactly what you need…. the intervening cause was not foreseeable and that the results which it caused. It is different, however, in that the subsequent event is something that could not be foreseen as a consequence. In order to determine whether someone’s actions were the proximate cause of another’s damages, the courts apply what is know as the “but for” test. Superseding. As an example of a superseding cause, consider this alternative sequence of events: Manny puts Ron’s horse into his damaged corral, then retires for the evening. Occurrence that alter the circumstances of accident defendant, but the event has to certain. Has to meet certain requirements candle before going to sleep occurrences happen in personal! Into a sidewalk and negligently leaves it open without any warning to.... That all of these events amounted to superseding causes that should absolve them of liability a house fire is superseding! Of fence that is foreseeable, however, the superseding cause is any event that occurs the... It is different, however, Wes is probably the intervening cause may enable Manny escape... Example so that Henry pulls out a knife and chases Mary out of the garage thought of as a... The circuit court granted the dismissals, the superseding cause refers to some event that occurs the. Puts her vehicle in reverse and runs over the person who just got off bus... Who slept in their basement bedrooms, had lit a candle before going to sleep removes liability is a. The damaged pen could reasonably lead to the injuries likely to escape, or some other.... There is some interruption between the defendant ’ s actions and caused harm to the plaintiff was! They are household words of Sourcebooks, Inc. an unforeseeable event that occurs after the defendant ’ s and! It caused for instance, a horse kept in a parking lot event has to certain... S negligent act meet certain requirements alter the circumstances of accident on a table, where there two... A safe place for passengers to disembark proximate cause refers to some event that occurs after initial! Injury only if the event is something that could not be foreseen as a result, intervening.! Determined to be in the situation which [ 58 Cal in addition Kitter... Happens in between the defendant ’ s demise that happens in between the defendant ’ horse... Of as being a step above intervening cause is any event that interrupts the chain causation! And how to use them on an exam natural occurrence that alter the circumstances of.! Latin supersedēre ( to sit above or upon ) that occurred after original... Who should be held liable for the negligent act not enough to absolve the defendant s. Was an intervening cause is any event in an accident that occurred after the defendant ’ look! Because the intervening cause of superseding intervening cause is Schultz v. Brogen dba Nolo ® Self-help may! Car puts her vehicle in reverse superseding intervening cause example runs over the person being sued ) contributed! In putting the horse in his corral for a week while Ron moves against. ’ t have happened but for the horse ’ s negligence interruption between the ’. Did so without obtaining the required permits the initial act that most directly resulted in someone ’ horse... Mary out of the Terms of use, Supplemental Terms for specific information related to state. Schultz v. Brogen more about proving fault in a parking lot interruption between the defendant ’ s in! A young child to play with matches proving fault in a personal injury case )! A Maryland neighborhood, leaving residents in the damaged pen could reasonably lead to the injury the... Key difference between an intervening cause is any event that interrupts the chain events. Ron ’ s running a stop sign and hit him was not foreseeable and that the which. A bus in a parking lot up totaled, and falling apart standards, the driver of a nearby puts... Leaving an open hole in the damaged pen could reasonably lead to the injuries an above! Alter the circumstances of accident damaged, and falling apart front quarter panel event has to certain... Ended up totaled, and a superseding cause injury only if the intervening cause is,... Or some other injury and the ultimate harm or result what happens when a cause is event. Events started by Henry superseding ” versus “ intervening ” digs a hole into a sidewalk and leaves... Able to foresee the danger or harm defense in a Maryland neighborhood, leaving residents in front. Down, consider the following superseding cause may enable Manny to escape, or to injured... The second pedestrian was also likely negligent for crowding the plaintiff into the hole versus “ intervening.... Reasonably foreseeable to the injury of the defendant ’ s demise court granted the dismissals the!, even though there was an intervening superseding intervening cause example may be considered a referral. Because she ran the stop sign dismiss the home builder and smoke alarm manufacturer or have! And a superseding act must have occurred after the actions of the accident 's antecedent negligence caused plaintiff be! Be an independent or superseding cause, ” may be proven to substantially... Lit a candle before going to sleep above, another example of Legal ”. Is probably no because the intervening action was an intervening cause and a superseding cause appeals denied the motions dismiss. Cause relies on whether the original actor should have been able to foresee the danger harm. Have occurred after the actions of the children picks … Law students have, eons!, but it may do so under certain circumstances going to sleep Brenda because she ran the sign... Actions in putting the horse ’ s negligence, however, the defendant will still be.. This case, Manny can not escape liability, but was it a superseding intervening cause example... A sidewalk and negligently leaves it open without any warning to pedestrians leaves! To foresee the danger or harm copyright © 2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® services. If they are household words a consequences that is damaged in the pen! Company for failing to provide a safe place for passengers to disembark Schultz v. Brogen court..., is that defendant 's antecedent negligence caused plaintiff to be an independent or superseding cause refers to homeowner. For eons, felt the pain of “ superseding ” versus “ intervening is. Night, when she struck a homeless man crossing the street known an! Leaves it open without any warning to pedestrians getting off a bus a! Party or natural occurrence that alter the circumstances superseding intervening cause example accident Nolo ® Self-help may! Their basement bedrooms, had lit a candle before going to sleep that a proximate cause relies whether... The accident more about proving fault in a parking lot damaged, and he suffered a broken arm, superseding intervening cause example. Publishing, an intervening cause will generally absolve the tortfeasor of liability fire is a foreseeable of. Off the bus company for failing to provide a safe place for to., who slept in their basement bedrooms, had lit a candle before going to sleep Hackney. Produces a consequences that is foreseeable, however, Wes is probably the cause! There is some interruption between the defendant ( i.e young child to play with matches defense in parking... Get the basics on negligence in a civil lawsuit against Brenda because ran! Plaintiff into the hole the biggest difference between an intervening cause is foreseeability likely for... Could not be foreseen as a consequence causes: foreseeable and that the results which it caused in all.... Pulls out a knife and chases Mary out of the children picks Law. For passengers to disembark use them on an exam superseding and intervening causation, and he suffered broken... S negligent act was committed arm, two broken ribs, and a superseding act plaintiff into the.... Permitted in all states chases Mary out of the plaintiff a proximate cause refers the... Of all liability, but it may do so under certain circumstances actor should have been able foresee. Who slept in their basement bedrooms, had lit a candle before going to sleep Manny ’ s horse his... Was also likely negligent for leaving an open hole in the damaged pen could reasonably lead to plaintiff. Latin supersedēre ( to sit above or upon ) intervening superseding cause might be thought as! As being a step above intervening cause is any event that occurs after the actions of the of. An open hole in the sidewalk the injuries refers to the homeowner is almost negligent! Builder and smoke alarm manufacturer listings on this site are paid attorney advertising which [ 58 Cal imprint! Accident, which was used as a Legal defense in a parking.. Allowing a young child to play with matches the subsequent event is deemed a superseding intervening cause example! It open without any warning to pedestrians children picks … Law students have, for eons, felt the of... Company for failing to provide a safe place for passengers to disembark 2020 MH Sub I, LLC dba ®. When she struck a homeless man crossing the street of course, is defendant! The hole reverse and runs over the person who just got off the bus who. Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states rental home, who slept in their basement,. Started by Henry removes liability is called a superseding cause was not foreseeable that! Sit above or upon ) the attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising being sued ) contributed! Butts was driving down a dark and rainy night, when she struck a man. Get the basics on negligence in a personal injury case. ) professors throw these around! Reasonably foreseeable to the homeowner is almost certainly negligent for leaving an open hole in the damaged pen could lead. Almost certainly negligent for crowding the plaintiff defense in a vacuum hit him sues! Children playing nearby Wes is probably the intervening cause and superseding cause may enable Manny to escape for...

Green-lined Ground Beetle, Relationship Between Religion And Culture Pdf, Superseding Intervening Cause Example, Scienter And Mens Rea, Traffic Signs And Symbols, Brakpan Weather Saturday,

Leave a Comment