Appellate Court Discusses the Foreseeability Element in Recent Car Accident Case

Before a personal injury case is submitted to a jury for the ultimate determination of whether the defendant should be held legally and financially responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, a judge must first determine that each of the plaintiff’s claims meet the necessary elements. If a judge determines that one or more of the plaintiff’s claims fail to meet the elements of that claim, the judge will dismiss the insufficient claims and allow only the legally sufficient claims to proceed.

CowsIn a recent case in front of a New York appellate court, the court discussed the foreseeability element that is present in most personal injury cases.

Hain v. Jamison:  The Facts

Hain was driving on a rural road late in the evening when she saw a calf that had escaped from its home and was standing in the road. Hain safely pulled over to the side of the road, exited her vehicle, and proceeded to approach the calf and help it off the road. As she was assisting the calf, another motorist came by and struck Hain, tragically killing her.

Hain’s husband filed a wrongful death case against both the driver as well as the farm that had allowed the calf to escape. The driver contested her own liability, claiming that it was the negligence of the farm owner that caused Hain’s death, rather than her own. The farm owner claimed that Hain’s death was not a foreseeable consequence of the calf’s escape and that Hain’s own behavior in getting out of her car and entering the road acted as an intervening cause of her own death.

The Court Determines Hain’s Death Was a Foreseeable Result of the Farm Owner’s Negligence

The court ultimately decided that the farm owner’s negligence could foreseeably result in the type of traffic accident that claimed Hain’s life. The court agreed that it would not be uncommon for a motorist to exit her vehicle to assist a lost domestic animal in the middle of the road. In fact, the court cited several previous cases in which motorists had done just that and had suffered similar consequences.

It is important to note that the court was not issuing a final decision on the merits of the case, only determining if the plaintiff’s case was sufficient as a matter of law. Thus, in issuing the opinion, the court found that enough evidence existed regarding causation to submit the case to a jury. The case will now proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, many steps may lie between you and your potential recovery. The assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney in the various stages and procedural hurdles of the process will be vital to your case’s success. The skilled injury attorneys at Charles B. Roberts & Associates have ample experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including those arising from complex legal scenarios and multi-party accidents. Call 703-491-7070 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

See More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Bad-Faith Insurance Claim Allowed to Proceed after Dismissal Is Reversed on Appeal, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 7, 2016.

Summary Judgment in Virginia Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 3, 2017.