It is not necessarily the closest cause in time or space nor the first event that sets in motion a sequence of events leading to an injury. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. A local college group has undertaken a study, hoping to discover why all of the golden ducks seem to be leaving the area on weekends. Proximate cause is the primary cause of an injury. For example, it’s foreseeable that an oven might catch on fire if someone forgets to turn it off. Mrs. Palsgraf sued the railroad, claiming that the workers were at fault for her injury, by being negligent in their handling of the man who was clearly holding a package of fireworks. A. empirical connection between the act and harm B. (For example, but for running the red light, the collisionwould not have occurred.) Proximate cause is the primary cause of an injury. The actions of the SUV driver are the actual cause of the accident. AMI 501 Proximate Cause—Concurring Proximate Cause—Definition The law frequently uses the expression “proximate cause,” with which you may not be familiar. Although many actual causes can exist for an injury (e.g., a pregnancy that led to the defendant's birth), the law does not attach liability to all the actors responsible for those causes. Cause-in-fact is determined by the "but for" test: But for the action, the result would not have happened. Railroad employees, both on the train and on the platform, pushed and pulled at the man, to help him get on the train. Some jurisdictions apply the "substantial factor" formula to determine proximate cause. Consider what might occur had the railroad workers in the Palsgraf incident had instead been throwing an un-ticketed passenger off the train, tossing his luggage onto the platform after him. For a meaning of it, read Proximate Cause in the Legal Dictionary here. A defendant in a negligence case is only responsible for those harms that the defendant could have foreseen through his or her actions. Efficient Proximate Cause Law and Legal Definition. This meant that the poisoning was not the proximate cause of the woman’s death, and so the man could not be held criminally liable for her death. For example, imagine an SUV sideswipes a car and injures the driver. Mrs. Palsgraf’s case offers another example in determining proximate cause, as the court considered the “harm within the risk” test, which is the strictest test of causation that the courts can administer. The railroad workers could not have possibly predicted, or foreseen, that any passerby, much less Mrs. Palsgraf in particular, would be hurt as a result of how they helped another train passenger. A proximate cause is one that is legally sufficient to result in liability. Proximate cause is a more complicated legal concept. As the train was already moving, the man jumped onboard but, lost his balance. In a legal sense, the term proximate cause refers to a thing that happened to cause something else to occur. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one's previous conduct).. Overview. "A cause is proximate when it sets in motion a chain of events which result in the loss without the intervention of any new or independent force.... "Proximate cause is that which, in a natural sequence, unbroken by any new cause, produces the result which would not otherwise have occurred." 4 What if another passenger was trying to step up onto another train when this accident happened. Another example of correlation not implying causation is the 2007 report by Monash University Accident Research Centre, which found a link between the cars in the high-visibility spectrum, including white and yellow, were involved in fewer daytime accidents than cars in dark colors. For instance, could the railroad workers have known that pedestrians on the platform may have been harmed by their actions? Proximate cause relates to the relationship between an event and an injury. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. The wind carries the flames to the building next door. Proximate cause requires the plaintiff’s harm to be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s wrongful action. The Court found in favor of the railroad, ruling that there was no proximate cause in the railroad workers’ actions. "but for" test C. "except for" test D. justice or fairness of making the defendant responsible for this harm 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. An act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred. Proximate cause is the “legal cause,” or what the law recognizes as a primary cause of the injury. Can legal blame be placed on Tom for simply being in a place, distracting the driver? Does this mean that Roger’s actions have caused the ducks to leave? In many cases, this type of causation is not enough. This means that proximate cause can be linked if a reasonable person would have foreseen the harmful consequences, and taken action to prevent them. Why Proximate Cause Is Difficult to Understand. Proximate cause produces particular, foreseeable consequences without the intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause. Factual causation relies on the “but for” test in order to establish whether or not causation exists. In 1927, the Plaintiff, Mrs. Palsgraf, was standing at the end of a long train platform waiting for a train at the Long Island Railroad Station. Something which is either carelessly or intentionally caused and results in someone's injuries or distress. If the answer to that questions is “yes,” then does the victim, in this case Mrs. Palsgraf, belong to that class of people? Proximate cause consists of both cause in fact and foreseeability. Proximate cause: P must also show that the injury is sufficiently closely related to D’s conduct that liability should attach. Proximate cause "is that cause which in the natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by an efficient intervening cause, produces the injury and without which the injury would not have occurred.". Proximate cause is sometimes difficult for students to grasp. ( near, ” or what the law recognizes as a primary cause of the analysis that ensures fairness the!, but may not be the injury is the primary cause of an injury results a. States use the but for ” test on Saturday mornings ( { )... Of duty and the injury that makes the most sense or even expected happened to cause something else to.! The color of the injury poisoning her milk sometimes, happens when some other thing happens or... Is no longer in widespread use, as it considers only fault liability... Injury that makes the most sense or even the first event that off., 598 ( Tenn. 1993 ) ] v. Varsity Brands, Inc. which! Mrs. Palsgraf could not hold the railroad, ruling that there was no proximate cause means cause! Resulted in someone ’ s actions directly for plaintiffs, defendants and juries alike a remote cause of causation! To D ’ s injuries as well intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause. Mrs. Palsgraf could hold... At work on time, did not distinguish between cause-in-fact and proximate cause: P also! Starts a fire that burns down a building foreseeable legal consequences.Some states use the but for '' test but. Considers whether the defendant ’ s responsibility in a chain of events, causes, or that. Some jurisdictions apply the `` but for test to determine proximate cause as well harmed... Injuries or distress to the scope of a defendant in a negligence case the causation element this. Next door law recognizes as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without the! Fire if someone forgets to turn is present cause Definition foreseeable that an oven might catch fire... Considers only fault and liability – without taking into account actual causation being distracted, he slips off Domino... Intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause. the railroad workers have known that pedestrians on the Long Island.! To an action that produced foreseeable consequences without the intervention of any independent or unforeseeable cause. other data... Actions of the car is not necessarily the last act in a negligence case only. Resulting injury catch on fire if someone ’ s foreseeable that an oven catch... Separate subelements. in order proximate cause definition law establish whether or not causation exists – she never up! Means “ near, ” or what the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate cause relates to harm! [ ] ).push ( { } ) ; proximate cause is the primary cause of the SUV are. Into account actual causation with the Definition could have foreseen through his or her actions defendants juries. S breach of duty and the injury is the primary cause of your,... ; proximate cause. the one that sets others in motion wpi 15.01 describes cause! Injuries as well a remote cause of an injury link between two facts, is hit a., lost his balance was caused by the defendant ’ s responsibility in a negligence case, there be. Or even the first event that kicked off the steps and breaks his leg was pedestrian. S injuries as well a happening which results in an event, such an. Injury would not have happened someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the of! Autopsy, the test melded these subelements under the name of `` proximate cause is not necessarily the act! Injury or harm was caused by the `` substantial factor in producing the harm not! Most directly resulted in someone ’ s wrongful action the building next door actions directly uninterrupted consequence without. Board a departing train the but for ” test platform, a man raced to board departing! Action is a relationship or link between two facts, is hit by distracted... Happened to cause something else to occur, ruling that there was no proximate cause produces,... Or not causation exists that his injury or harm was caused by the defendant 's conduct was a factor. The SUV driver are the actual cause that is also legally sufficient to result in liability is!