Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a case discussing an important issue that often arises in Florida personal injury cases. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the concept of proximate cause, and in which situations a defendant’s negligent actions may be too distant from a plaintiff’s injuries to constitute legal causation.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was the daughter of a man who was killed in a traffic accident as he was crossing the street at a crosswalk on an electric scooter. Six years prior to the fatal accident, the plaintiff’s father was involved in another accident when he was the passenger in a vehicle. That accident occurred when a tire in the vehicle blew out, causing the vehicle to crash into a nearby telephone pole. As a result of the 2005 accident, the man’s mobility was severely limited, and he required an electric scooter to get around.
Prior to the 2011 accident, the man filed a lawsuit against the tire manufacturer. That lawsuit resulted in a defense verdict. However, prior to 2011, the verdict was overturned. The plaintiff’s father, however, never re-filed the case, although he could have done so.
Following her father’s death, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tire manufacturer. The plaintiff claimed that the tire manufacturer’s negligence resulted in her father needing to use the electric scooter. She further claimed that, as a result of being mobility-limited, her father was unable to avoid the 2011 accident.
The Court’s Discussion
The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim on the ground that the tire manufacturer’s negligence was not the proximate cause of her father’s death. The court acknowledged that when determining whether a defendant’s actions constitute the cause of an injury or death, there are two main inquiries.
The first question, the court noted, was whether the defendant’s actions were a “substantial factor” in bringing about the injury or death. The court agreed that the defendant manufacturer set in motion a chain of events ultimately leading to the plaintiff’s father’s death.
The second question, however, regarding the issue of proximate cause, was resolved in favor of the defendant. The court explained that the 2011 accident was not a foreseeable result of any negligence on the part of the tire manufacturer. In so holding, the court explained that proximate cause must be assessed by considering the possible consequences of a defendant’s allegedly negligent actions. Thus, proximate cause will not be found when an injury or death is “connected only distantly and indirectly to the defendant’s negligent act.” Here, the court determined that the 2011 accident was “too attenuated” from the 2005 accident to find that the tire manufacturer’s negligence was the proximate cause of the 2011 accident. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.
Have You Been a Victim of a Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have decades of collective experience representing victims and their families in all types of South Florida personal injury claims. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Verdict in Favor of Patient Reversed by Court Due to Patient’s Failure to Prove Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 19, 2017.
Accident Victims Should Not Be Pressured to Accept Settlement Offers by Pushy Florida Insurance Adjusters, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 5, 2018.