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Cause

Proximate, Unforeseeable, And Remote Cause

The proximate cause of an injury is the act or omission of an act without which the harm would not have occurred. This is a concept in the law of torts and involves the question of whether a defendant's conduct is so significant as to make him or her liable for a resulting injury. For example, a person throws a lighted match into a wastepaper basket that starts a fire that burns down a building. The wind carries the flames to the building next door. The act of throwing the match would be the proximate cause of the fire and the resulting damage; however, the person may not be held fully liable for all resulting consequences.

An unforeseeable cause is one that unexpectedly and unpredictably results from the proximate cause. The degree of injury sustained is unanticipated or far removed from the negligent or intentional conduct that took place. For example, if a customer in a supermarket irritates a clerk and the clerk pushes the customer out of the way, which results in prolonged bleeding because the person is a hemophiliac, the bleeding is an unforeseeable consequence of the clerk's action. Even if the clerk intentionally pushed the customer, the resulting injury is clearly far removed from the conduct.

A remote cause is one that is removed or separate from the proximate cause of an injury. If the injuries suffered by a person admitted to a hospital after being hit by a truck are aggravated by MALPRACTICE, the malpractice is a remote cause of injury to that person. The fact that the cause of an injury is remote does not relieve a defendant of liability for the act or omission, but there may be an APPORTIONMENT of liability between the defendants.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Robert Lee Carter - Further Readings to Child MolestationCause - Cause And Causality In American Law, Actual, Concurrent, And Intervening Cause, Proximate, Unforeseeable, And Remote Cause