Causation is a critical part of a personal injury lawsuit. If you are injured due to someone else’s carelessness, you will need to prove that this was the main cause of your accident to recover financial compensation in Texas. Before you can recover, however, you may need to navigate defenses related to intervening or superseding causes. For assistance with your injury claim and proving causation, contact a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio.

What Is an Intervening Cause?

An intervening cause can make it more difficult to hold a party legally responsible (liable) for your losses, as it can interfere with a defendant’s accountability for the accident in question. An intervening cause is a new element that arises after the defendant’s negligent action that contributes to or exacerbates the victim’s injuries. An intervening cause can work in combination with the defendant’s mistake to worsen the severity of the damage.

An example of an intervening cause is if an eyewitness to a car accident attempts to help a victim by lifting him or her out of the car but accidentally exacerbates the victim’s injuries. In this example, the witness’s intervention would be viewed as an intervening cause during a related personal injury claim. This may reduce the liability of the driver who caused the car accident, depending on the situation.

What Is a Superseding Cause?

A superseding cause is something that takes the place – supersedes – of the defendant’s liability for an accident. It is an effective defense to a negligence claim, as it argues that someone or something else, and not the defendant’s actions, was the proximate (main) cause of the accident. Where a superseding cause exists, it weakens the defendant’s connection to the plaintiff’s injury to the point where the defendant can typically avoid liability altogether.

An example of a superseding cause is if a product manufacturer included the required warnings in an item’s original packaging, but a retailer repackaged the product without them. In this scenario, the retailer’s actions would constitute a superseding cause of a related consumer injury, potentially protecting the product manufacturer from liability.

Superseding and Intervening Causes in Injury Cases

In a typical personal injury claim, an injured victim can use the “but for” test to establish causation for his or her accident and injuries. This test asks whether the victim’s injuries would have happened but for the defendant’s actions. If the answer is no, the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. If there are intervening or superseding causes, however, these will have to be taken into consideration when determining liability.

If your personal injury case involves an intervening cause, this most likely will not relieve the defendant from liability. However, the defendant may share liability for your injuries with the party at fault for the intervening cause. Thus, an intervening cause could reduce the defendant’s liability for your injuries and losses.

If your case involves a superseding cause, on the other hand, this has the power to fully protect the defendant from liability. A superseding cause could strip the defendant of legal responsibility for your accident, forcing you to file an injury claim against the party responsible for the superseding cause instead. If the superseding cause was an act of God, you may not have the right to file a personal injury case in Texas at all.

Whether or not a defendant can escape liability due to an intervening or superseding cause comes down to foreseeability. If the cause was reasonably foreseeable, it does not break the causal chain that led to the plaintiff’s injuries and thus does not protect the defendant from liability. If the intervening or superseding cause was not foreseeable, however, the defendant might not be liable.

Please contact the attorneys at Maloney & Campolo for more information about causation during your injury claim.