XI. Torts: Causation
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ACTUAL CAUSE -- CAUSATION IN FACT
Before defendant's act can be considered the proximate cause, it must be shown to be a but for cause.
"But for" cause -- an act or omission to act is the cause in fact of an injury when the injury would not have occurred but for the act.
- Applies where several circumstances combine to cause the injury.
- Other tests:
-- Substantial Factor Test
-- where several causes concur to bring about an injury, any one alone would have been sufficient to cause the injury, it is sufficient if the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor causing the injury
-- Alternative Causes Approach
-- plaintiff must prove that one of the plaintiffs' negligence caused the injury and then burden of proof shirts to defendants
, and each must show that his negligence is not the actual cause.
PROXIMATE CAUSE -- LEGAL CAUSATION
The proximate cause doctrine is one that limits liability for unforeseeable or unusual consequences of one's acts.
The general rule of proximate cause is that the defendant is liable for all harmful results that are the normal incidents of and within the increased risk caused by his acts. If one of the reasons that make defendant's act negligent is a greater risk of a particular harm occurring, and that harm does occur, defendant is generally liable.
PROXIMATE CAUSE IN DIRECT CAUSE CASES
No external intervening force of any kind.
Foreseeable hamful results: defendant liable if particular result is at all foreseeable, even if it was accomplished in an unexpected way
Unforeseeable harmful results: defendant not liable
PROXIMATE CAUSE IN INDIRECT CAUSE CASES
Whether an intervening force will cut off defendant's liability is determined by foreseeability.
Foreseeable results caused by foreseeable intervening causes -- defendant liable
Foreseeable results caused by unforeseeable intervening forces -- defendant is usually liable. An exception exists where the intervening force is a crime or intentional tort of another, when it will be deemed a superseding force that cuts off defendant's liability.
Unforeseeable results caused by foreseeable intervening forces -- defendant not liable
Unforeseeable results caused by unforeseeable intervening forces -- defendant not liable.
Unforeseen extent/severity of harm -- defendant liable -- the tortfeesor takes his victim as he finds him.
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