While the circuit court granted the dismissals, the plaintiffs appealed. Ultimately the court ruled that reasonable minds could very surely come to different conclusions about that issue, and therefore it is a question of fact that should be determined by a jury. Quinn is in an automobile accident, which was caused by Brenda’s running a stop sign. 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. So, a key part of the definition here is that the intervening cause has to occur after the defendant’s negligent action or inaction. 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. 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." For example, imagine that a city fails to fill in a pothole and a car’s tire is damaged after driving over it. What Happens when a Cause is determined to be an Independent or Superseding Cause? 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 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 is any event in an accident that occurred after the actions of the defendant (i.e. 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. Do Not Sell My Personal Information. A superseding cause disrupts the causal chain because the link between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury no longer exists. To explore this concept, consider the following superseding cause definition. 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. An intervening cause occurs when there is some interruption between the defendant’s conduct and the ultimate harm or result. intervening cause Primary tabs. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. Law students have, for eons, felt the pain of “superseding” versus “intervening”. 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. ... For example, the culpability of the third person committing ... determining whether an intervening force is a superseding cause of harm to the. What sets an intervening cause apart from a superseding cause (discussed below) is that it is a foreseeable outcome of the person’s actions. 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. Proximate cause refers to the act that most directly resulted in someone’s damages or injury. 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. 1485-1405       Latin    supersedēre  (to sit above or upon). The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. Other jurisdictions do not use the term superseding cause. This is the biggest difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause. Superseding. The key difference between an intervening cause and a superseding cause is foreseeability. However, the outcome of Manny’s actions in putting the horse in the damaged pen could reasonably lead to the injuries. Remember that proximate cause requires conduct “unbroken by any superseding cause.” A superseding, or intervening, cause only breaks the chain of causation if it was unforeseeable. 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. In addition to Kitter, which was used as an example above, another example of superseding intervening cause is Schultz v. Brogen. out of proximate causation: superseding and intervening causation, and the medical malpractice complications rule. In other words, your injury wouldn’t have happened but for the negligent act. 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. Quinn’s car ended up totaled, and he suffered a broken arm, two broken ribs, and a severe neck strain. 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? An intervening cause is any event that occurs after the defendant’s actions and caused harm to the plaintiff. 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. The Essential Law Dictionary. — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. A superseding cause, also known as an “intervening cause,” may be proven to have substantially caused the accident. Manny agrees to keep Ron’s horse in his corral for a week while Ron moves. 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. Additionally, a superseding act must have occurred after the original actor’s negligent act was committed. Quinn’s car is damaged in the front quarter panel. 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. Intervening Cause and Superseding Cause. In this situation, a horse kept in a damaged corral is quite likely to escape, or to be injured. [16] In that case, one defendant had gone into a ditch, and another defendant pulled the car out, resulting in both vehicles facing … 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. A negligence claim will only succeed if you prove that your injury was actually caused by the defendant’s negligence. The horse is severely injured. The landlord had finished the basement, though he did so without obtaining the required permits. 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. There are two types of intervening causes: foreseeable and unforeseeable. Let’s say that a homeowner digs a hole into a sidewalk and negligently leaves it open without any warning to pedestrians. In some cases, this may remove liability from the defendant, but the event has to meet certain requirements. 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. In this example, superseding cause may enable Manny to escape liability for the horse’s demise. 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. Usually intervening causes are actions by a third party or natural occurrence that alter the circumstances of accident. 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. 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. 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. A fellow pedestrian negligently fails to leave enough room for the plaintiff to pass on the sidewalk, and the plaintiff falls into the hole. 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. 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. See People v.Acosta for a great example.. Learn more about proving fault in a personal injury case. 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. For instance, a house fire is a foreseeable consequence of allowing a young child to play with matches. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. An unforeseeable event that interrupts the chain of causation, becoming the actual cause of the accident. The court of appeals denied the motions to dismiss the home builder and smoke alarm manufacturer. In some jurisdictions, an intervening cause that removes liability is called a superseding cause. Meanwhile, the driver of a nearby car puts her vehicle in reverse and runs over the person who just got off the bus. One of the children picks … Change the example so that Henry pulls out a knife and chases Mary out of the garage. The term superseding cause refers to some event that occurs after the initial act that caused an accident, or some other injury. 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. Star Athletica, L.L.C. However, Wes is probably the intervening superseding cause of Mary’s death because he interrupted the chain of events started by Henry. 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. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Supplemental Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. 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 person being sued) and contributed to the injury of the plaintiff. Intervening Cause. Proximate cause produces a consequences that is foreseeable, or even expected. To break this down, consider that very few occurrences happen in a vacuum. 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. Mary escapes Henry and hides in an abandoned shed. 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. A lawyer referral service dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states house fire a! 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