Objective Vs. Subjective Forseeability In Injury Cases

Law Blog

When it comes to injury law, the American system frequently emphasizes the foreseeability of what happened. The system uses two terms, objective and subjective foreseeability, in ways that might seem odd to the average person, though. It's important to understand how both kinds of foreseeability work and what they mean to a personal injury lawyer.

Subjective Foreseeability

The legal sense of subjective foreseeability refers to what was specifically known to the subject, meaning the defendant, in the time before an incident happened. Subjective foreseeability is about what is provable. It speaks to the defendant's knowledge that their negligence could harm another person.

Suppose an amusement park's maintenance team had logged evidence of multiple failures on a ride that the business kept running. Those logs would speak to the subject's knowledge that there was a potential threat to public safety based on the persistent failures of the equipment. If the park didn't take the machine out of operation to have it professionally repaired and recertified, that would indicate subjective negligence. People knew there was a danger, and no one did enough to make the equipment safe.

Generally, subjective foreseeability is a more concrete argument. Usually, there is evidence that the defendant thought about what could happen. It's about who knew what and when they knew it.

Objective Foreseeability

A personal injury law firm uses the term "objective" a bit different than its common usage. It generalizes more in injury law. Particularly, it speaks to the idea that a reasonable person would expect another individual or an organization to understand that their actions were potentially harmful.

Suppose a bicyclist decided that the fastest way to get to their destination was to ride through a crowd of people on foot. Instead of dismounting and walking with the bike, they elected to ride as fast as they could through the crowd. The rider collided with and injured a pedestrian, and EMTs came to the scene to provide treatment for severe injuries.

In that scenario, the bicyclist might not have given thought to the fact that someone could be hurt. Perhaps they were overconfident in their ability or just in such a rush that it didn't cross their mind. Regardless, most people would expect you to know that riding hard into a crowd is reckless. Consequently, it is objectively foreseeable that harm might come from it, even if there is zero evidence to support the defendant's knowledge of that fact.

Contact a local personal injury lawyer to learn more.


14 December 2020

Every Business Owner Needs to Be Well-versed in Law

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