Superseding Cause in Personal Injury Case

February 25, 2022

Superseding Cause in Personal Injury Case

In Arizona, when your negligent behavior causes injury to someone else, you could be held reliable for it. But there are ways that the defendant (the at-faulty party) can use in order to avoid his/her liability. One of many ways this can be done, is the option for a superseding cause which means that the defendant is claiming that a superseding incident, caused by someone else, is the actual reason and cause of the injuries. A superseding cause is an intervening act that can override the initial negligence of the at-fault party and exonerate him/she from the liability.

For example, someone could argue that the cause of a car accident actually lies with a bar that kept over-serving a customer who later that night, caused a car accident. In some US states, including Arizona the bar could be held reliable if the bar staff didn’t prevent the customer from leaving and driving while intoxicated. In this scenario, the bar’s attorney could argue that the customer’s actions of going home and taking a nap can be considered a superseding cause but the injured party can still claim that the bar is at fault for not stopping their customer from leaving in such state.

Superseding Cause – Explanation

To put it simple, a superseding cause intervenes between the original act of the defendant and the final result. In Arizona, a superseding cause can relieve the defendants of the liability if it was unforeseeable. Even though the original negligence is with the defendant and that is considered to be substantial factor that contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries, the original actor is actually not responsible if there is a possibility for a superseding act.

In the scenario described above, the court can decide that the bar is not at fault, even though they could have very well known that the customer could cause an accident since he/she was intoxicated. The bar and its staff could predict that the customer is planning on driving home and during that time might caused an accident. The moment the customer arrives safely at home, the negligence of causing the accident would go from the bar to the negligent driver. So basically, it would be the same situation as if someone getting into an accident, while driving intoxicated from alcohol that they bought at a local grocery store.

As you can see, arguing that there’s a superseding cause, is a way for the defendant to escape the liability of his/her negligent actions which caused injury to others. However, personal injury cases that might include superseding cause can be pretty difficult and complicated, since they involve another party who’s liability has to be identified.  It’s best to pursue these type of cases with an experienced personal injury lawyers who knows is familiar with the process and will be able to help you get the compensation that you’re owed.