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intervening cause

n. an event which occurs between the original improper or dangerous action and the damage itself. Thus, the "causal connection" between the wrong and damages is broken by the intervening cause. This is a "but for" situation, in which the intervention becomes the real reason harm resulted. The result is that the person who started the chain of events is no longer responsible and will not be found liable for damages to the injured person. Example: Fred Flameout negligently starts a wildfire by welding on his hay bailer next to a row of haystacks, some hay catches fire, and the fire spreads, heading toward the next-door ranch. However, just as the county fire department has the fire nearly contained, Peter Petrol drives his oil truck through the fireline against a fire fighter's orders and stops on the road between Flameout's property and Richard Rancher's. Sparks from the fire cause Petrol's truck to explode, sending the fire on the way to Rancher's barns and home, which burn down. Petrol's negligence is an intervening cause which gets Flameout off the liability hook. Sometimes this is called supervening cause or superseding.

See also: cause  negligence  superseding cause 

From the Law.com Newswire



The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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