preemptive cause question (negligence)

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beta
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preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby beta » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:03 pm

if there are two negligent actors (say D1 and D2), which actor's negligence preempts the other?

for example, my auto mechanic does not replace my turn signal lights properly so they do not work when used. later that day, i forget to use my turn signal and cause an accident (but even if i would have used my turn signal, they lights would not have come on) because my lights did not indicate my turn---who is liable?

does the mechanic's negligence preempt mine? or does mine preempt the mechanics?

thank you in advance!

uvabro
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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby uvabro » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:36 pm

beta wrote:if there are two negligent actors (say D1 and D2), which actor's negligence preempts the other?

for example, my auto mechanic does not replace my turn signal lights properly so they do not work when used. later that day, i forget to use my turn signal and cause an accident (but even if i would have used my turn signal, they lights would not have come on) because my lights did not indicate my turn---who is liable?

does the mechanic's negligence preempt mine? or does mine preempt the mechanics?

thank you in advance!

his negligent wouldn't be a cause at all, because u forgot.

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby Kage3212 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:39 pm

How would you know your turn signal doesn't work if you didn't use it....this is where my mind first goes when looking at this.

In my mind, the fact that you didn't use a turn signal nor attempt to use a turn signal makes you negligent (assuming Duty, Breach, Casue Harm). It doesn't matter that your signal doesn't work, what matters is that you need to be acting as a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstances; not attempting to turn your signal on when making a turn is not what a reasonable person would do, therefore you likely breached at that moment.

Now say you did try to use the signal and it didn't work, you would have been acting more reasonable in this circumstance. Perhaps the plaintiff is trying to establish negligence per se. If they bring this up to try and establish a breach, you may have have an excuse that it was impossible to comply with the a vehicle statute because your lights didn't work. But even this may not absolve you from liability, would a reasonably prudent person then stick their hand out of their window to indicate their turn? (similar to a biker maybe) This is when the arguing shoes come on.

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby ph14 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:41 pm

uvabro wrote:
beta wrote:if there are two negligent actors (say D1 and D2), which actor's negligence preempts the other?

for example, my auto mechanic does not replace my turn signal lights properly so they do not work when used. later that day, i forget to use my turn signal and cause an accident (but even if i would have used my turn signal, they lights would not have come on) because my lights did not indicate my turn---who is liable?

does the mechanic's negligence preempt mine? or does mine preempt the mechanics?

thank you in advance!

his negligent wouldn't be a cause at all, because u forgot.


No. Because even "but for" your forgetting to use the turn signal, the accident would still have happened. Thus you are not the but for cause. This is one of the tricky complications of but for causation. I forget exactly what the solution to this problem is. I think the Restatement comments might explain what the solution is.

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby beta » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:44 pm

yeah the but-for test doesnt work here.

thats why its tricky.

my notes say D1s negligence preempts D2s...(so fire one (D1) destroys house and then fire two comes after (D2), all liability is on D1.

so that would mean to me that the mechanic is liable....
but that seems off too

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby uvabro » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:56 pm

ph14 wrote:
uvabro wrote:
beta wrote:if there are two negligent actors (say D1 and D2), which actor's negligence preempts the other?

for example, my auto mechanic does not replace my turn signal lights properly so they do not work when used. later that day, i forget to use my turn signal and cause an accident (but even if i would have used my turn signal, they lights would not have come on) because my lights did not indicate my turn---who is liable?

does the mechanic's negligence preempt mine? or does mine preempt the mechanics?

thank you in advance!

his negligent wouldn't be a cause at all, because u forgot.


No. Because even "but for" your forgetting to use the turn signal, the accident would still have happened. Thus you are not the but for cause. This is one of the tricky complications of but for causation. I forget exactly what the solution to this problem is. I think the Restatement comments might explain what the solution is.

But in this 1 don't u have proof the mechanic didn't cause it?

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby ph14 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:03 pm

uvabro wrote:
ph14 wrote:
uvabro wrote:
beta wrote:if there are two negligent actors (say D1 and D2), which actor's negligence preempts the other?

for example, my auto mechanic does not replace my turn signal lights properly so they do not work when used. later that day, i forget to use my turn signal and cause an accident (but even if i would have used my turn signal, they lights would not have come on) because my lights did not indicate my turn---who is liable?

does the mechanic's negligence preempt mine? or does mine preempt the mechanics?

thank you in advance!

his negligent wouldn't be a cause at all, because u forgot.


No. Because even "but for" your forgetting to use the turn signal, the accident would still have happened. Thus you are not the but for cause. This is one of the tricky complications of but for causation. I forget exactly what the solution to this problem is. I think the Restatement comments might explain what the solution is.

But in this 1 don't u have proof the mechanic didn't cause it?


The mechanic didn't cause it, correct. But think it through legally:

Driver failed to hit his brakes and crashed. But the mechanic failed to fix the brakes.
    You cannot say Driver is a "but for" cause, because even if she had hit the brakes, she would have crashed anyways.
    You cannot say that the Mechanic is a "but for" cause, because even if he had fixed the brakes, she failed to push the brakes and she would have crashed anyways.

It's kind of a weird paradox, and the law has developed some sort of method for dealing with it, I just cannot remember off the top of my head.

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby FLaker » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:13 pm

Could the driver argue dependent intervening causation?

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby jump_man » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:32 pm

beta wrote:if there are two negligent actors (say D1 and D2), which actor's negligence preempts the other?

for example, my auto mechanic does not replace my turn signal lights properly so they do not work when used. later that day, i forget to use my turn signal and cause an accident (but even if i would have used my turn signal, they lights would not have come on) because my lights did not indicate my turn---who is liable?

does the mechanic's negligence preempt mine? or does mine preempt the mechanics?

thank you in advance!


This is an issue of contributory negligence/apportioning fault. Four states and DC have pure contributory negligence laws, where any contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff precludes any possible recovery of damages. Most states say that if you are >50% or >51% at fault, you cannot recover any damages. Some states, including CA, have a pure comparative fault system, where you can recover from negligent parties, no matter how negligent you are. Consequently, even if your negligent failure to use the turn signal is 95% responsible for the injury (and the mechanic is 5% at fault), you can still recover damages (they will just be reduced by 95%).

But looking at the facts of your hypo, I think you would have a hard time making a case for negligence because the mechanic's actions are not the proximate cause of your injury. Your own negligence functions as an intervening cause (see Pollard v. Oklahoma City Ry)

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby uvabro » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:22 pm

we haven't covered this in my class - exactly, but isn't this kind of like joint and severable liability? it seems like summers v tice or more analogous but less famous - the jc penny case where the negligently flammable jacket came in contact with a negligently caused gas fire by a gas station employee, and both were responsible. however, there u had joint causes. in real life no1 would ever admit they forgot the blinker but i guess i just don't see how this is cause in fact? can someone who got an A in torts intervene?

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby jump_man » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:36 pm

uvabro wrote:we haven't covered this in my class - exactly, but isn't this kind of like joint and severable liability? it seems like summers v tice or more analogous but less famous - the jc penny case where the negligently flammable jacket came in contact with a negligently caused gas fire by a gas station employee, and both were responsible. however, there u had joint causes. in real life no1 would ever admit they forgot the blinker but i guess i just don't see how this is cause in fact? can someone who got an A in torts intervene?


Joint and severable liability only applies between multiple defendants. When you are yourself negligent, then it becomes an issue of contributory negligence/comparative fault (see my earlier post).

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby beta » Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:41 am

no, sorry i don't think i wrote my hypo clear enough.

basically, after the accident, the report reveals that the mechanic was negligent and that's why we know the turn signal would not come in.

this isnt a contributory negligence issue.

one person is off the hook because the other person's negligence preempted it.

i think that what i had in my notes originally was correct--i'm pretty sure that D1 (mechanic) would be held liable, and D2 would be off the hook.

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby jump_man » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:03 am

1.
beta wrote:the report reveals that the mechanic was negligent and that's why we know the turn signal would not come in


2.
beta wrote:one person is off the hook because the other person's negligence preempted it.


These are two separate issues. If 1 were true, then the mechanic must be the proximate cause, and there cannot be any intervening causes (i.e. The driver's failure to use the turn signal; please read Pollard v. Oklahoma City Ry. to understand how intervening causes preclude proximate cause, and therefore preclude liability for Negligence - here is a link to the case).

This might be what you are talking about in 2, but you should not confuse intervening cause with contributory negligence or comparative fault. If the mechanic's actions satisfy all the prima facie elements of Negligence (including proximate cause), then you cannot say that that the driver's own negligence was the proximate cause of the injury.

If, however, both parties are at fault (the plaintiff and defendant), then it becomes an issue of contributory negligence or comparative fault (depending on the rule that the jurisdiction recognizes). Is this clear?

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby uvabro » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:50 am

beta wrote:no, sorry i don't think i wrote my hypo clear enough.

basically, after the accident, the report reveals that the mechanic was negligent and that's why we know the turn signal would not come in.

this isnt a contributory negligence issue.

one person is off the hook because the other person's negligence preempted it.

i think that what i had in my notes originally was correct--i'm pretty sure that D1 (mechanic) would be held liable, and D2 would be off the hook.

yep that totally changes it. even if the car was poorly made, the mechanic would like to be an intervening actor because the risk should have died when a professional took control of it. driver may still be negligent, though. it depends on how long he was driving for and whether it's more probable than not he knew.

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Re: preemptive cause question (negligence)

Postby jump_man » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:08 am

uvabro wrote:the mechanic would like to be an intervening actor because the risk should have died when a professional took control of it


No, the mechanic would not be an intervening actor because he was the original source of the negligence. He cannot intervene in his own negligence. Only the driver can be an intervening actor here.

I should mention that I made an assumption in my previous comments - I assumed that the driver was the injured party. If the driver is injured and sues the mechanic, then it is a question of comparative fault or contributory negligence. If, however, a third party is injured by the accident and they sue the mechanic, then the mechanic will likely escape liability because he was not the proximate or actual cause of the third party's injury. The injured third party would also not be able to sue both the driver and mechanic as jointly and severally liable parties, because the mechanic's carelessness (breach) did not contribute to the injury - only the driver's carelessness (breach) caused the injury. In a suit between the third party and the driver, I think the third party would be able to prevail on a negligence claim, because the driver satisfies all prima facie elements of negligence.

Just remember that in any negligence case, you will always do a comparative fault analysis to see if it precludes recovery or reduces damages.




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