Can a Negligent Defendant in Arizona Avoid Liability After an Accident?
Victims of injury accidents caused by the negligence of another party are within their right to pursue an Arizona personal injury claim against the careless party for financial compensation. No one wants to be held responsible for causing an accident and then having to pay another party for their damages. In some instances, even when there is a clear liability on behalf of one party, other intervening circumstances may arise that clear the original negligent party of their liability for the final outcome. When this happens, it is called a superseding cause and it has the potential to remove liability from a defendant.
How Do Superseding Causes Work?
If an initial action causes harm to one party but along the way another incident happens that causes further damages to the original victim, this may be considered a superseding event. To be classified as such, the second event that took place must be deemed more serious than the earliest incident.
An example would be if you are in an Arizona car accident. Let’s say a speeding driver runs a red light and hits you. You feel a little bit of pain and your car sustains minor damage. As you are assessing the scene another car smashes into you head-on causing you significant injuries that require you to be immediately transported to the emergency room for medical treatment. Your car is now totaled because of the impact of the second driver hitting you. It could be argued that the initial driver wasn’t responsible for the final outcome because the second crash is what caused the bulk of the severe damages. There could also be an argument that both the car that ran the red light and the car that was being driven by the second driver would share liability.
Another example is Arizona’s dram shop laws. These laws indicate that if a bar over serves a customer, and the customer leaves and causes harm to another party as a result of their inebriation from the bar, the bar can be held liable. However, if an over-served customer leaves the bar and then goes to a friend’s house to sleep it off, only to drive their car again after they wake up, this could be determined a superseding event.
The bar could have been held liable for allowing the drunk individual to leave their establishment if an accident happened directly after the patron left and got into their car. This is so because a direct connection between getting drunk at the bar and the accident that resulted could be reasonably foreseeable. However, the accident happened after the intoxicated person went to another location without incident. Anything the individual decided to do after they made their second stop and stayed for a while could not be predicted, so their actions make it so the bar is no longer responsible for them.
Speak with an Arizona Personal Injury Attorney
Understanding the complexities that can exist after Arizona injury accidents can become convoluted quickly. Superseding causes do exist and can help a defendant avoid liability for the initial harm they caused another party. To understand if your case is one that involves a superseding cause, connect the Arizona personal injury attorneys at ELG.
To meet with one of the experienced Arizona personal injury attorneys at ELG during a free consultation, please call (623) 877-3600.