Proximate cause is a legal concept that limits liability along the chain of causation. In order to establish that one person’s negligence is the proximate cause of another, a plaintiff must show there was:
- Defendant’s negligent act was the cause-in-fact (i.e., a reasonable certainty defendant’s actions caused the injury and injury would not have occurred but for defendant’s conduct);
- Defendant’s negligent act was the legal cause of injury (i.e., The injury was foreseeable/ of a type that a reasonable person would see as the likely result of his or her conduct).
Questions regarding proximate cause come up a lot anytime there are chain reaction collisions. However, the farther apart in space and time the crashes occur, and the more that happens in the meantime (i.e., superseding causes), the lesser the chance that an act of negligence will be deemed the proximate cause of another’s injury. This is what was seen in a recent case out of South Dakota involving a motorcycle accident wherein two bikers crashed on the same road, near the same curve, but a 40-minute time span apart. The two motorcyclists never collided with each other. Still, the second motorcyclist (plaintiff) alleged the negligence of the first (defendant) created a dangerous condition that was the proximate cause of his crash. Continue reading →