Lawyers in Spokane argue Superseding Cause as a defense to fault

Defenses to Negligence

Lawyers in Spokane can argue several defenses to negligence. The following are some arguments that a defendant may use to avoid liability for negligence:

I. Superseding Cause– generally, a defendant is liable for all damage that naturally and foreseeably results from his negligent behavior.

A “superseding cause” is an intervening event that frees the defendant from liability for damage that occurs subsequent to the superseding event. Although the defendant remains liable for damages arising before the superseding cause, the defendant is relieved from liability for damages arising after the superseding cause because the court recognizes that it would not be “fair or just” to hold the defendant liable for the damage that follows the superseding event.

Lawyers in Spokane courts deem an event to be a superseding event when the injury following the event ceases “to be of a kind that is a foreseeable result, considering the nature of the defendant’s negligent activity.”

Generally, intentional torts or criminal acts that occur after the plaintiff’s negligent behavior are considered superseding causes, but all tortious acts are not necessarily superseding. For example, a defendant is liable for damage arising from medical malpractice that occurs while a doctor is treating the injured plaintiff. However, if the ambulance is carjacked on the ride to the hospital, the defendant would not be liable for the injuries arising due to the carjacking.

Lawyers in Spokane can also seek a defense under pure comparative negligence statutes.

II. Pure Comparative Negligence– according to the law of pure comparative fault, if both a defendant and a plaintiff are found to have acted negligently in causing the plaintiff’s injury, the defendant’s liability is equal to the total amount of damage incurred by the plaintiff multiplied by the percentage of the defendant’s fault.

Example– Monroe and Harlowe have an automobile accident. Monroe sues Harlowe. Monroe was driving twice the speed limit, and Harlowe failed to look before entering the intersection. The total injury incurred by Monroe is $100,000. Monroe is found to be 45% at fault and Harlowe is 55% at fault. Harlowe is liable for $55,000. ($100,000 x 55% = $55,000).

III. Assumption of the Risk– “assumption of the risk” is a rule of law that states that if a person knows of a risk and voluntarily agrees not to hold a defendant liable, the defendant is not liable for damages resulting from the risk. Assumption of the risk can be a powerful defense to certain claims and many lawyers in Spokane like to argue assumption of the risk.

a. Express assumption of the risk– express assumption of the risk occurs when a person acknowledges a risk and signs a waiver for those risks. Such a waiver may include a waiver of risks resulting from another’s negligent behavior.

Example– Before joining a health club, Sharon signs a waiver that acknowledges that injury can occur in the health club and agrees not to hold the health club liable for injuries resulting while in the gym.

The waiver expressly states that the health club will not be liable for injuries resulting from the health club’s negligent maintenance of the equipment. Sharon has expressly assumed the risk of working out in the gym and cannot hold the gym liable for resulting injuries.

Comment- The ability to waive the right to sue for the negligent behavior varies from state to state. Some states require that if the right to sue for negligence is to be waived, the waiver of negligence must be expressly stated. Other states do not allow the right to sue for negligence to be waived; in these states, such waivers are deemed void.

b. Implied assumption of the risk– if a plaintiff has knowledge of a risk and voluntarily exposes himself to that risk, the plaintiff is foreclosed from obtaining damages resulting from the known risk.

Example– Mickey, an experienced skier, skies down a slope having numerous moguls. Although he has skied the slope many times and the slope is no different than he expected, he loses his concentration and injures his knee on one of the moguls.

The company that runs the slope will not be liable for Mickey’s injury because he knowingly decided to engage in the risk of skiing on the slope.

Contact one of our Spokane attorneys now!

Read more about:

Overview of this area of law
Washington negligence law
Negligence: Duty and Breach
Negligence: Causation
Negligence: Remedies and Damages
Defenses to Negligence
Spokane car accidents
Washington products liability
Bodily injury, fault, and other issues
Personal injury claims
Types of Liability Claims
Dealing with insurance companies
Intentional Injuries
Going to trial – overview