Meaning of Foreseeability and Proximate Cause

Foreseeability is also known as predictability.

A foreseeable incident is in expectation by a rational and sensible individual.

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For instance, if a building owner detected a water leak but did not resolve it or alert visitors about the likelihood of damp surfaces.

The legal cause of damage is the proximate cause, and it is the chief factor for the injury, as determined by the law. The initial item that caused the event, or even the most blatant act of carelessness, may not be the proximate cause. It is the occurrence or action that resulted in a foreseen result of a personal injury. The damage would not have occurred if the cause had not occurred.

The “but for” test finds the proximate cause.

In simple terms, without the proximate cause, the injury would have not happened.

The proximate cause does not have to be the element of the incident, but instead the incident that generated the harm, probably.

Relationship between Foreseeability and Proximate Cause
Foreseeability and proximate cause are inextricably linked. The dominant criteria used by courts to ascertain proximate cause in an accident lawsuit is the foreseeable consequence of personal damage.

The question of foreseeability is whether the defendant could or should have anticipated that the proximate cause would cause serious harm.

The culpability in injuries is by the foreseeability of the harm type, not the quantity.

In certain circumstances, the injuries occur by an unanticipated overriding factor.

The defendant is unlikely to be held accountable as he/she could not have rationally anticipated the implausible overriding factor.

Acts of God, unlawful acts by other parties, and willful misbehavior are examples of superseding causes that are unlikely due to defendant carelessness.

Avoidable overriding causes of injuries, such as a surgeon’s negligence, also exist.

The defendant is accountable for the claimant’s actual losses regardless of whether the amount of the harm was predictable. The “eggshell skull” rule (thin skull rule) states that a plaintiff is entitled to damages for the entire extent of their injuries, even if they were severe than the normal one in the same situation. The fact that a defendant could not have predicted the degree of the harm does not absolve him of responsibility for all of the claimant’s losses.

Landmark Cases
Zokhrabov v. Park – The Appellate Court recently examined the issue in this case involving foreseeability, responsibility, and proximate cause. Plaintiff sued the estate of a man when an Amtrak train moving through a Metra platform hit him. Once the train approached at 73 mph, the victim entered the pedestrian crossing. He got murdered, and his body flung, injuring his shoulder and breaking the hand and leg. The defendant was given summary judgement by the trial court, which determined that the deceased owed no duty. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, concluding that the deceased owed the plaintiff a duty. The court stated that when someone engages in risky activities, he should take adequate precautions to avoid harming others. Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. – It was a decision from 1928 helping define proximate causation and foreseeability in the United States. The case involved a man hurrying to catch a train when he dropped a package (containing pyrotechnics) onto the track while two railway workers supported the distressed man onto the railroad car. It burst when it touched the rails, causing the scales on the opposite side of the track to collapse, injuring a spectator, Ms. Palsgraf. She filed a lawsuit against the railroad, alleging that the two train personnel were careless. The railway appealed the decision after the trial court found it in her favor. The Appellate court subsequently overturned the decision, claiming that the link between the guards’ conduct and harm was too nebulous to hold the railway responsible.

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