What Does “Intervening” and “Superseding” Mean in a Personal Injury Case?

Personal Injury • May 2, 2022

When you are injured in an accident, you may have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is a legal action that can help you recover damages for your injuries. In order to win your case, you will need to prove that the other person was at fault for the accident. A defendant can try to show that there was an intervening or superseding event that reduces their liability or relieves them from liability altogether. 

What Does Intervening Mean?

Intervening is a way in which a defendant can attempt to avoid or reduce liability when they’re being sued. It is an act that breaks the chain of causation. This means that the defendant’s actions caused an accident or an injury, but something else happens that contributed to the plaintiff’s or someone else’s injuries. If the defendant injures the plaintiff and then the plaintiff or someone else is injured but the injury wasn’t foreseeable, the defendant could avoid liability for the second set of injuries. If the injuries were foreseeable, a defendant will not be able to avoid liability. 

Example of Intervening Cause

If you are driving on the highway and you witness a crash, you might be tempted to pull over and help. If you see that the driver is seriously injured and you try to move them out of the car, you could be held liable if the driver is further injured as a result of your attempt to help. This is considered an intervening cause. The driver was already injured by something and someone else, which caused the original injuries, but the fact that you caused further injury means you can be held liable for some of their injuries. 

What Does Superseding Mean?

A superseding cause is a defense to a negligence claim. It is an unforeseeable event that breaks the chain of causation and becomes the actual cause of the accident or injuries, therefore reducing or eliminating liability for the defendant. A defendant can try to show that even though they behaved in a negligent manner, something else happened after their action that actually caused the accident and injuries. 

Example of Superseding Cause

If you are in a car accident that occurred because someone ran a stop sign, you will be able to sue the driver for any damages to your car or injuries that you suffered. If something else occurs after the accident occurs – for example, a tow truck is driving too fast down the road trying to get to your car and runs into it, causing you serious injury – the original driver likely cannot be held liable for the injuries you sustained from the tow truck because that situation was not foreseeable. 

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer?

There are many benefits of hiring a lawyer. A lawyer can help you gather evidence, prove your case, and negotiate with the insurance company. A lawyer can also help you recover damages for your injuries. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Lastly, a lawyer can help level the playing field when it comes time to negotiate a settlement.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, contact us today. Our experienced Jersey City personal injury attorneys can help you recover the compensation you deserve.