A single-vehicle car accident in St. Joseph provides an excellent illustration of one of the most difficult concepts in personal injury law: Proximate cause.
Car Hits Power Pole, Causes Power Outage
On Monday, June 17, a driver in the south side of St. Joseph lost control of their vehicle and hit a power pole. She then overcorrected and hit two other poles, knocking one down.
The crash knocked power out to several houses in the area for a few hours.
The driver suffered minor injuries. She was ticketed for careless driving.
The question becomes whether the driver is responsible for any repercussions of the power outage.
The Issue of Proximate Cause
Personal injury law aims to compensate victims who get hurt in accidents all the time. The big question becomes when an accident causes an injury. While the answer is clear in many cases, there are plenty of situations where it is not.
A crucially important factor in whether an accident causes an injury is how far removed the two of them are from each other. Another important factor is whether the chain of events between the accident and the injury is foreseeable or not.
For example, it is clear that the driver in this case would be responsible for the damage to the power poles because she drove into them. However, things become grayer if one of the following things happened:
- The power pole fell onto a house or car
- The power pole fell onto a pedestrian
- A restaurant lost power because of the accident and had to throw out all of its food
- A power pole fell, and the sparks lit a house on fire and burned it to the ground
Even though the chances for some of these situations are remote, something similar to each one of them has happened in the past and created a lawsuit.
How Courts Determine Proximate Cause
Where to draw the line is one of the most difficult things for courts to do in personal injury cases.
Courts in Missouri do it by asking whether the injury was the “natural or probable consequence” of the accident. This question revolves more around whether the results of the accident were foreseeable, rather than whether the injuries that were suffered were the type of injuries one would have expected out of the situation.
Of course, this only stresses how subjective the decisions can be. What one judge might think is a foreseeable outcome from a crash, another judge might decide is too far removed.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
Persuading a judge and jury that your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence is what a personal injury lawyer does, all the time. The facts that can make a difference in a decision about proximate cause are everywhere. Stressing the ones that show that you should be compensated by the person who hurt you is what a personal injury lawyer at the Smith Law Office can do.
Contact them online or call their St. Joseph law office at (816) 875-9373 if you have been hurt in a car accident.