Why Proximate Cause Is Difficult to Understand

Proximate Cause is a difficult legal concept to understand for plaintiffs, defendants and juries alike. It is, however, essential that all parties come to grips with it, because it can have a heavy bearing on the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit.

What is Proximate Cause?

Proximate cause, in relation to personal injury, refers to the foreseeability of that injury taking place. It contributes to at least part of the proof in a personal injury lawsuit. The majority of cases of personal injury are built around these 4 core elements:

  • Duty
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Proximate cause, in addition to a second negligibility factor known as cause in fact, must be proven before a plaintiff can claim for damages resulting from a personal injury.

Why is Proximate Cause Difficult to Understand?

As mentioned, proximate cause doesn’t refer to the injury itself – it refers to how foreseeable said injury was as a direct or indirect result of the defendant’s conduct.

Proximate cause isn’t always clear cut, which can make it difficult for some people to understand. When deciding if a plaintiff has a valid claim of proximate cause, there are several key points that the judge and jury need to take into account:

Close and near: This is what proximate essentially means. The plaintiff must have sustained an injury in an environment that was both close and near to the defendant’s actions. Drawing the line on where this environment begins and ends, however, can be far from easy.

Foreseeability: In a personal injury case, the plaintiff’s injuries need to be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. Foreseeability can be largely subjective, making proximate cause a difficult concept to grasp.

The plaintiff’s actions: How the plaintiff acted leading up to the injury can bear on the result of the case. The result of the lawsuit can be drastically influenced by whether or not the plaintiff was deemed to have placed themselves at risk. If it can be understood that the plaintiff knowingly entered the “zone of risk,” the validity of their claim of proximate cause can be brought into question.

A Professional Attorney Will Help You Understand Proximate Cause

Proximate cause isn’t an easy concept to understand because a multitude of other factors can come into play. If you’re unsure of whether proximate cause could influence a personal injury lawsuit brought against you, get in touch with a professional attorney for legal guidance.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Proximate Cause, or any other personal injury, please feel free to contact Brian T. Allen at  480.461.5335,  log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.