A lot of elements come into play in personal injury cases. Concepts like causation, negligence, and duty of care all determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and financial losses. With some personal injury claims, an additional concept applies—foreseeability.
Foreseeability refers to the issue of whether a reasonable person would have foreseen the consequences of their actions. It is regularly taken into account to determine whether the party who injured you behaved negligently, so it is pivotal in cases such as:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slips and falls and other premises liability claims
- Pedestrian injuries
- Injuries due to negligent security
In some cases, foreseeability is easy to establish. For example, if you were struck and seriously injured by someone who was texting behind the wheel, then your attorney can argue that the high level of public awareness surrounding distracted driving would make a reasonable person aware that such actions are dangerous and could injure someone.
With other cases, establishing foreseeability is more difficult. If you were struck while out jogging because the driver suddenly blacked out, then their actions might not meet the foreseeability standard unless they knew they had an existing medical condition that left them vulnerable to sudden blackouts.
There are some notable exceptions to the foreseeability rule. One is the so-called “eggshell skull” rule, which states that you have to take the victim as you find them. For example, if someone rear-ended you with enough force to cause a minor case of whiplash in most people but you suffered severe injuries due to having brittle bone disease, then the other driver is still liable for your higher damages, even though they could not have foreseen how badly the impact would hurt you.
Another exception would be an event that interrupts the chain of causation between your injury and the other person’s negligence. Examples of such events include but are not limited to:
- Intentional acts of violence, such as assault and battery
- Acts of God, such as earthquakes or lightning strikes
These acts are usually seen as unforeseeable. If you pull over to avoid a drunk driver only to be injured by a lightning strike or attacked by a carjacker as you exit the vehicle, then the intoxicated driver cannot generally be held accountable for these unexpected events.
As demonstrated above, the foreseeability of the consequences of one’s actions is not always clear-cut, which can create problems when establishing liability unless the case involves strict liability, such as dog attacks and certain types of product liability claims. An experienced New York personal injury attorney can help you determine whether the other party’s conduct meets the standard and hold them accountable for negligence.
Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY accident and personal injury lawyer with over 35 years of experience. If you were injured and have questions regarding negligence or foreseeability, then set up a free in-person consultation with Mr. Lutzky. Call his office at 718-329-9500 or visit www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com for more information.