Direct And Proximate Cause Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Direct And Proximate Cause, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Direct And Proximate Cause?

n. The immediate reason why negligence caused damage. It is required that the negligence cause the damages without another party’s intervention and cannot be remote in place or time. For example: “Defendant’s negligent acts directly and proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries.”

History and Meaning of Direct And Proximate Cause

Direct And Proximate Cause is a legal term used in tort law that refers to the primary cause of an injury or damages. It is an essential element in the establishment of liability in tort cases. According to this principle, the defendant's negligence should be the direct and immediate reason for the plaintiff's harm, without any significant intervening cause.

The concept of direct and proximate cause dates back to the earliest days of tort law. It was initially developed as a way to distinguish between negligent conduct that merely contributed to an injury and negligent conduct that was the actual cause of the injury. Over time, the principle of direct and proximate cause has become a central concept in tort law, used to establish the existence of a causal relationship between the defendant's conduct and the plaintiff's injury.

Examples of Direct And Proximate Cause

  1. A driver who hits a pedestrian while texting and driving is directly and proximately responsible for the pedestrian's injuries.

  2. A landlord who fails to properly maintain their property and causes a tenant's injury is liable for the harm caused by their direct and proximate negligence.

  3. A hospital that administers an incorrect medication to a patient, causing them to suffer adverse health effects, is directly and proximately liable for the patient's injuries.

Legal Terms Similar to Direct And Proximate Cause

  1. Cause-in-fact: A term used to describe the event or action that directly led to a particular injury or harm.

  2. Foreseeability: A principle used to determine whether the defendant could have foreseen the harm caused to the plaintiff by their negligent conduct.

  3. Contributory negligence: A legal defense used to allocate responsibility for damages that arise when both the plaintiff and the defendant are partially at fault.