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Break in the Chain of Causation?
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Break in the Chain of Causation?

Non-law sudent trying to tackle a law question. If a paramedic drops a patient, who has brittle bone disease, causing a broken hip and later a third party crashes into the ambulance meaning that the patient has to have their leg amputated. Where does the fault lie, who is negligent and who can be sued?







Gail
Rating
The claimant must prove that the defendant's breach of duty "caused" their loss. The paramedic may be held responsible for the broken hip. He cannot argue that the break was due to the pre-existing brittle bone disease (the thin skull rules applies - the defendant must take his victim as he finds him - Smith v Leech Brain & Co) The third party crashing into the ambulance is not foreseeable and would be regarded as a novus actus interveniens (intervening act) which breaks the chain of causation. So the paramedic would only be liable for the broken hip, not the amputation. In practice the courts are reluctant to impose liability upon rescue workers due to the public policy issues which would arise. So it is unlikely the paramedic would face prosecution.


Pfo
Rating
The paramedic is responsible for their mistake, but not the accident. The fact that the earlier mistake made the later accident worse is irrelevant, because the paramedic could not have known and in any case did not do it on purpose. The third party driver can be sued, I'm pretty sure the paramedic has limited protection provided they try to make amends (might vary by state).







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