Proximate Cause - Superceding Cause

Posted Thursday, January 05, 2017 by Ed Harper

Proximate Cause – Superseding Cause

WPI 15.05 – “A superseding cause is a new independent cause that breaks the chain of proximate causation between a defendant’s negligence and an injury/event.

If you find that the defendant was negligent but that the sole proximate cause of the injury/event was a later independent intervening cause that the defendant, in the exercise of ordinary care, could not reasonably have anticipated, then any negligence of the defendant is superseded in such negligence was not a proximate cause of the injury/event. If, however, you find that the defendant was negligent and that the no exercise of ordinary care, the defendant should reasonably have anticipated the later independent intervening cause/force/act, then that cause/force/act does not supersede defendant’s original negligence and you may find that the defendant’s negligence was a proximate cause of the injury/events.

“It is not necessary that the sequence of events or the particular resultant injury/event foreseeable. It is only necessary that the resultant injury/event fall within the general field of danger which the defendant should reasonably have anticipated.”

If however you find that the defendant, in the exercise of ordinary care, could not reasonably have anticipated the latter independent intervening cause then that causes does not supersede defendant’s original negligence and you may find that the defendant’s negligence was a proximate cause of the injury/event.

It is not necessary that the sequence of events where the particular resultant injury/event before seeable. It is only necessary that the resultant injury/event fall within the general field of danger which the defendant should reasonably have anticipated.

If the original negligence of the defendant is followed by a foreseeable event there is no superseding and interceding cause.

If however the independent intervening cause/event is not reasonably foreseeable, it is deemed to supersede the defendants original negligence. The defendant’s original negligence ceases to be the proximate cause. See estate of Keck by and through Cabe versus Blair. 71 Wn.App. 105, 850 6P. 2nd 740 (1993).

Foreseeability is normally a question of fact, as to which the trier of fact may consider the amount and nature of alcohol purchased for example the time of day, the presence of other minors on the president presents or in a vehicle and statements made by purchaser of alcohol. See the case Coker versus Armstrong cork. Or Rinks v. Bearrs, 83 Wn.App. 334, 921 P.2d 558 (1996).

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