The Doctrine of Intervening Cause in Florida Personal Injury Cases

In all Florida personal injury cases, the plaintiff must prove certain facts before they will be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries. The specific elements that must be proven depend largely on the type of case, but some elements are almost universally required across all Florida personal injury cases.One of the most common – and most contested – elements in a Florida personal injury case is the element of causation. Simply stated, the element of causation requires that a plaintiff prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, a recent case illustrates how establishing causation may not be as straightforward as it initially seems.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle on the highway. When he rounded a curve, he approached another accident without warning, and he was unable to safely stop in time to avoid an accident. He ended up sustaining serious injuries as a result of the motorcycle accident.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused the accident that resulted in the traffic jam. As it turned out, that driver was intoxicated and had lost control of his vehicle while traveling at a high rate of speed. The accident had occurred approximately 90 minutes prior to the plaintiff approaching.

The deceased motorist’s estate defended against the plaintiff’s lawsuit, arguing that any alleged negligence of the deceased motorist was too attenuated to be considered the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Specifically, the estate pointed to the Highway Patrol’s omission in failing to warn approaching motorists of the accident.

The Court’s Decision

The court agreed with the estate that the deceased driver’s actions could not be determined to be the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The court explained that, as a general rule, once a party sets in motion a series of events that results in injuries, that party can be liable. However, “when the natural and continuous sequence of causal connection between the negligent conduct and the injury is interrupted by a new and independent cause, which itself produces the injury, that intervening cause operates to relieve the original wrongdoer of liability.”

Here, the court determined that the Highway Patrol officers’ failure to warn upcoming motorists acted as an independent and intervening cause of the accident. The court also considered the amount of time that had passed between the alleged act of negligence and the plaintiff’s accident.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Motorcycle Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience preparing, negotiating, and litigating all types of personal injury cases. To learn more about your case and how you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appellate Court Determines Water Company May Be Liable in Slip-and-Fall Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 4, 2017.

State Court of Appeals Invalidates Nursing Home Arbitration Contract, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 13, 2017.

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