Every so often, an auto accident will occur on Texas roads that makes one marvel at just how much of life can be chalked up to chance. While it is a worthy question to examine in terms of philosophy, though, it can be even more relevant in terms of law. Almost 30 venomous snakes got loose on I-35 after a herpetologist’s car lost a tire and rolled into the access road, trapping the driver and a young child inside. All but seven were recovered, but those seven are still loose, as of this writing. It raises interesting legal questions.
The Concept of Foreseeability
Automobile accidents are usually tried in civil negligence law, meaning that a plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for the harm they have suffered. Negligence law has four pillars that must be established before a defendant can be held liable: duty, breach of that duty, proximate cause, and a showing of harm. In short, a defendant can be held liable if a plaintiff can show that they were owed a duty of care and it was breached (that is, that a reasonable person would not have acted in the same manner as the defendant) by the defendant’s conduct, which caused harm.
Part of the issue of proximate cause is the question of what Texas law calls foreseeability. If someone is injured due to someone else’s negligence, in order to hold that person liable, it must be shown that the proximate cause was foreseeable – after all, it would be against public policy to hold someone liable for something that no reasonable person could have seen coming. Someone else may intervene or play a role in your accident, but if the defendant’s conduct was still the primary cause, it does not matter that a third party might have played a role.
Snakes in a Car?
The issue of foreseeability comes up when one sees stories such as the Kinney Road crash. One might expect a tire to blow out; however, one does not expect venomous snakes to come out of a car crash. Such a thing might be foreseeable to the herpetologist, but not to the average motorist. If the crash had involved two cars, one wonders what might have occurred, especially if the snakes had made a beeline for the other automobile.
While obviously, the overwhelming majority of car crashes will not involve escaped dangerous reptiles, it is still very plausible that you might be involved in an auto accident where the cause is not foreseeable – that is, where a reasonable person would not expect the relevant events to happen. It is important to remember that if this is the case, you may have problems in terms of holding a defendant liable because proximate cause cannot be established without foreseeability. In other words, if whatever caused your accident is not foreseeable, it would be unjust to hold a defendant responsible for what amounts to a freak accident.
Call Our Auto Accident Lawyers Today
The Bettersworth Law Firm is ready, willing and able to assist with most types of auto accident cases, and will work with you to ensure that you are truly being represented – that you do not feel like a number. Contact our dedicated New Braunfels car accident attorneys today to set up an appointment; we are happy to have the chance to help.