Proximate Cause Legal Definition in Maryland
"Proximate cause consists of two elements: (1) cause in fact and (2) legally cognizable cause." Wankel, 127 Md. App. at 158.
"Causation in fact raises the threshold question of 'whether the defendant's conduct actually produced the injury.'" Wankel, 127 Md. App. at 158 (citing Peterson v. Underwood, 258 Md. 9, 16-17, 264 A.2d 851 (1970)).
In determining whether cause in fact exists, we apply either the "but for" test or the "substantial factor" test. Wankel, 127 Md. App at 158.
In Wankel, the Court outlined the differences between the two:
"By its very nature, the "but for" test applies when the injury would not have occurred in the absence of the defendant's negligent act. The "but for" test does not resolve situations in which two independent causes concur to bring about an injury, and either cause, standing alone, would have wrought the identical harm. The "substantial factor" test was created to meet this need but has been used frequently in other situations." Id. at 158-59 .
In contrast to "causation in fact," legal cause "asks whether the defendant, in light of 'considerations of fairness and social policy,' should be held liable for the injury, even when cause in fact has been established." Id. at 159.
"The question of legal causation often involves a determination of whether the injury was foreseeable." Id.
As we noted earlier in this opinion, "a person will not be relieved of liability for a negligent act if, at the time of that act, the person 'should have foreseen the "general field of danger," not necessarily the specific kind of harm to which the injured party would be subjected as a result of the person's negligence.'" Id.