Both foreseeability and proximate cause get used to determine who might be deemed at fault for a given accident. The legal system has defined what consequences of a given action might be viewed as foreseeable, and which could be declared the result of a proximate cause.
Who could be held liable for a proximate cause?
The legal system states that a defendant’s liability relates to the type and manner of the harm done to the plaintiff, but not to the extent of that same harm. A plaintiff must not expect a defendant to demonstrate the ability to make an assessment of the chances for some unlikely outcome, as per an Injury Lawyer in Barrie.
In 1994, one man was cleaning a parking lot at a mall when an earthquake occurred. The parking structure collapsed and the worker was killed. The family tried to win compensation from the property owner. The court felt that the property owner could not be called a proximate cause for the man’s death. The owner/operator of the mall was not expected to have assessed the chances for the unlikely possibility that an earthquake might take place during the time for the cleaning of the parking lot.
When can harm be foreseeable?
The court asks this question: Could the defendant have reasonably foreseen the consequences of his or her actions? Could the defendant have reasonably foreseen the consequences of his or her failure to take the expected action?
A family that has a pool in the backyard of the family’s home is supposed to place a barrier around that same pool. If it does not, and a child wanders into it, the home’s owner can be held liable. The owner should have foreseen the consequences expected from the absence of a required barrier.
The law removes liability for harm from a defendant if the plaintiff suffered harm following the defendant’s negligent act, but not in a causal manner. A return to the imagined situation where a family has a pool in the backyard should help the reader to understand the meaning of that ruling.
Suppose that a barrier has been placed around the pool, but one day the gate is left open. A child wanders through the gate and falls into the water, but is rescued by a swimmer. Then as the same swimmer dries and calms the child, a loose dog sneaks through the hole in the barrier.
The dog runs up to and bites the poor child. The owner of the poolside cannot be held liable for that dog bite. The dog’s actions were not caused by the fact that the barrier’s gate had been left open. The child’s injury did not qualify as harm that was done in a causal manner.