Accidents are often caused by more than one person, but under Texas law, a person can’t be held financially responsible for an accident unless they were the proximate cause of the accident. We’ll get to the definition of proximate cause later, but here’s an example that will illustrate the problem pretty clearly.
A Baytown, Texas family lost its mother in the weeks before Christmas when a Walmart shoplifter fleeing security caused a fatal car crash. The deceased woman’s 13-year-old daughter was also injured in the accident. The incident began when security at a Pasadena, Texas Walmart store caught the suspect stealing about $50 worth of merchandise, including a Hello Kitty purse and various small items. The shoplifter fled in a pickup truck and ran a red light, striking the deceased woman’s car.
The case raises an interesting question about whether Walmart–including those found locally in Houston–or its security guards can be held liable for chasing the woman off the property, causing her to flee in her vehicle and causing the accident.
Walmart can be held liable for the accident only if it, in addition to other requirements, was the proximate cause of the crash. A person or business is the “proximate cause” of an incident under Texas personal injury law if its actions were a substantial factor that brought about the plaintiff’s injuries, no harm would have occurred to the plaintiff without the defendant’s action, and the danger of injury was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s actions.
Here, the shoplifter’s reckless driving was clearly the cause of the woman’s death and her daughter’s injury, and it’s possible that Walmart’s role in the incident was not substantial enough to be proximate cause. But cases like this are very complex and require an experienced Texas personal injury attorney to sort through the facts, so seek legal advice if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and there’s a question about who may be liable.