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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Defining proximate cause

Injuries caused by defective products in Bozeman can be life-altering, causing drastic changes to a victim’s as well as his or her family’s lifestyle and even potentially prohibiting him or her from ever being able to secure sufficient employment. When this is the case, accident victims may look to the possibility of earning compensation through legal action against the manufacturers of the dangerous products involved in their cases as a way to offset their financial losses. Indeed, data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute shows the average jury award for product liability cases to have been $5.27 million in 2014, more than twice the average of the next most-cited form of negligence.

Many involved in product liability cases worry that they may be unable to directly link a manufacturer to the product defect that caused their injuries. However, in such instances, the legal principle of proximate cause may mean that they don’t have to. According to the Legal Information Institute, proximate cause is an actual cause whose indication may be legally sufficient to support liability. Simply put, if an outcome to a scenario was reasonably foreseeable, then proximate cause may apply.

Some may think that when determining whether proximate cause applies to a product liability case, the court will typically focus on three key injury elements:

  •          Type
  •          Manner
  •          Extent

However, if a reasonable person might have foreseen that a product could potentially cause users to suffer an injury, then a plaintiff may invoke proximate cause when bringing legal action against its manufacturer regardless of the type and/or extent of the injury suffered, as well as the manner of use that caused it. The same may hold true despite how unlikely the chance of the event which caused the injury was of occurring.  

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