The personal injuries which are dealt with in torts can occur through the direct willfulness or negligence of the defendant. It may also be the case that there is a proximate cause for the injury experienced by the plaintiff. In some cases, the person who enacts the proximate cause also takes on what is known as vicarious liability for the eventual suffering of injury.
The laws governing malpractice and assorted other medical misdoings, for instance, have allowed for vicarious liability to be applied to physicians and administrators without any direct involvement in or responsibility for the botched medical operation in question. The understanding of proximate cause does not, however, provide for its unlimited application to the individuals who made have had some casual relationship to the occurrence of an accident, but requires that some degree of negligence or formally assumed responsibility is present in the defendant.
The theory concerning proximate cause and vicarious liability refers to the chain of events which precedes the infliction of any form of injury. A person may play some role in starting such a chain of events without which, it can later be proved, an accident would not have occurred, without being found to possess vicarious liability for the eventual ill-effects. The legally relevant proximate cause is the one which should have occurred with the reasonable knowledge that it was reckless and might lead to someone suffering harm. In identifying this state, the law refers to the intervening cause.
This is the occurrence, and possibly the decision, which should have been recognized as directing the chain of events towards the ill-effects suffered by the plaintiff. A tort of negligence is geared not toward establishing culpability but toward gaining financial relief for a person who has, without his/her volition, been confronted with the necessity to pay medical bills and respond to other kinds of financial losses. The proximate cause refers to the person who will be imposed with the burden of making financial restitution.
The operation of the form of proximate cause known as vicarious liability has been observed in particular strength in the field of law concerning malpractice. This principle essentially allows for the owner or operator of a facility, such as a building or an office, in which malpractice is committed to be made liable for compensating the victim, despite not bearing any other kind of responsibility for the incident. The mere act of having rented out an office or portions of office for the giving of medical care is held to be a proximate cause and therefore establish the presence of vicarious liability.
This rule differs from those governing workplace injuries, since it can be used to establish vicarious liability for the actions of people not even employed by the defendant. The doctrine of vicarious liability is therefore considered to be one of the most troubling elements of malpractice law for physicians. Malpractice suits will commonly name the operators of the medical facility in which the incident took place as well as the responsible individual.