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What is “Proximate Cause” in California Personal Injury Law?

Proximate cause is a technical legal term of art involving foreseeability of an injury. Whether the injury alleged by the claimant was foreseeable can come to issue. Foreseeability is a question of whether the defendant’s act or failure to act was the cause of the claimant’s injuries.

It might be approached with the following question: “But for the defendant’s act or failure to act, would the injuries complained of have not occurred?” For example, a pedestrian in the middle of a marked crosswalk is hit by a car that rolled through a stop sign. The pedestrian endured a serious leg fracture involving surgery, hospitalization and rehabilitation. That pedestrian has filed a lawsuit for personal injury damages. 

If your or a loved have suffered an injury due to proximate cause, contact us today for a free consultation and we will explain your rights to you.

The Foreseeability Issue 

For a finding of proximate cause, the injuries complained of must be foreseeable. A defendant in an accident case can’t be held responsible for a claimant’s injuries if a reasonable person couldn’t have anticipated that they might occur. For example, the driver of car #1 runs a red light at an intersection. The driver of car #2 had a green light at the same intersection. He braked hard and swerved to avoid a collision with car #1. The driver of car #2 is now furious, and his heart is pounding. He recovers control of his car, and while the near-accident was still on his mind, he travels off of the road and crashes into a utility pole five blocks away. He alleges that the failure to act of the driver of car #1 caused him to be injured when he hit the utility pole. It would likely be determined that the driver of car #1 running the red light was not the proximate cause of the accident and injuries. It simply wasn’t foreseeable. As per CACI 430, it must be a substantial factor in causing harm that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the accident and injuries. The near-accident from five blocks behind was too in time and maybe even distance.

Contact a California Proximate Cause in Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Issues involving proximate cause and foreseeability can become complicated quickly. The applicable law must be applied to every case. If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident anywhere in California, contact us here at Maison Law as soon as possible for a consultation and complete case evaluation of all of the elements of negligence with a knowledgeable and dedicated California personal injury lawyer. We can help you understand whether all of those elements of negligence exist in your case, including that of proximate cause. 

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