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Proving Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury LawsuitTwo factors determine whether a defendant can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause, also known as cause-in-fact, is when the defendant’s actions directly lead to the injury. Proximate cause is determining whether the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions would cause injury. Proving proximate cause can be straightforward with a defendant whose actions directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. A reckless driver can reasonably foresee that his or her actions would put other drivers and pedestrians in danger. However, proximate cause can be more difficult to prove with a third party involved in the incident.

Recent Case

In Kramer v. Szczepaniak, the plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants whom they claim are liable for a vehicle-pedestrian accident. The plaintiffs were leaving a Chicago movie theater at 1:30 a.m. and used Uber to call a ride. The driver could not figure out the directions to get the passengers to their destination and kicked them out of the vehicle when one of them offered to help give directions. While walking home, the plaintiffs were hit in a pedestrian crossing by a driver who was speeding. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that hit them, the Uber driver, Uber, and the person who let the Uber driver use his vehicle. Before hearing any arguments, a trial court dismissed the lawsuit against all defendants except for the driver who hit the plaintiffs, citing a lack of proximate cause.

Appeal

An Illinois appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, stating that there is a question of fact whether the Uber driver is liable for the injuries. The court said that the plaintiffs proved actual cause with the driver because they would not have been walking home if the driver had not forced them out of the vehicle before reaching their destination. As for proximate cause, the court said it is possible that the driver could have foreseen that he was putting the plaintiffs in danger because:

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Sun Glare Does Not Waive Vehicle Accident LiabilitySun glare can be just as dangerous of a vision hazard while driving as heavy rain or fog. National traffic crash studies estimate that sun glare causes a couple hundred accidents each year, but the number may not represent all of the sun-related crashes because police reports often cite other factors as the cause. Sun glare can temporarily blind you to obstacles in the road and is most prevalent at dawn and dusk during the spring and fall months. Drivers cannot use sun glare blindness as a defense against liability for a traffic crash that they caused.

Preventing Glare

You are expected to take necessary safety precautions against being blinded by sun glare or causing an accident if you are blinded. Unlike with severe weather, sun glare is not legally an “Act of God” that makes you unable to control your driving. There are several ways you can protect yourself and other drivers:

  1. Wear Polarized Sunglasses: Completely polarized sunglasses should eliminate the glare on your eyes, though you may still not have optimal vision.
  2. Clear Off Your Dashboard: Reflective objects on your dashboard can shine the sunlight onto your windshield and into your eyes.
  3. Use Additional Sun Visors: The standard sun visors in a vehicle may not deflect the sun from all angles. Installing additional sun visors can cover the gaps.
  4. Clean Your Windshield: Streaks and marks on your windshield can make the glare worse and reduce your visibility further.
  5. Change Your Driving Route: The sun will always rise from the east in the morning and set in the west during the evening. You can try to avoid driving in a direction that makes you face the sun.
  6. Drive at a Different Time: You can adjust your driving schedule so you are not traveling during the morning and evening hours when the sun glare is at its worst.

If the sun glare is blinding you, you should reduce your driving speed or pull over and stop. You cannot expect your visibility to suddenly improve.

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