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Natural and Probable Consequences

NATURAL AND PROBABLE CONSEQUENCES

Those ramifications of a particular course of conduct that are reasonably foreseeable by a person of average intelligence and generally occur in the normal course of events.

The individual who is guilty of misconduct in contract or tort is responsible for the natural and probable consequences of the act or omission that proximately causes loss or injury to the plaintiff. Based on the usual experience of human beings, if the consequences were to be expected, a plaintiff can recover damages from a defendant who caused the injuries.

Breach of Contract

Damages for breach of contractual agreement are those that result naturally from the violation of contract provisions and that are reasonably contemplated by the parties when the contract is made. Factors to be considered in determining what damages might have reasonably been considered include the nature and purpose of the contract as well as the accompanying conditions of which the parties were aware when the contract was executed. Damages that do not stem naturally from a breach of contract are not recoverable, nor are damages that are not within the reasonable contemplation of the parties. There is no requirement that the promisor compensate the injured party for harm that the promisor or any reasonable person upon making the contract would not have reason to foresee as the predictable outcome of a breach.

Torts

An individual who is guilty of committing a tort is liable for loss or injury that is the natural and probable result of his or her act or omission. It is sufficient that consequences are merely possible, since they must be reasonably foreseeable in order to serve as an adequate basis for the recovery of damages.

Prospective and Anticipated Consequences

In a situation where a cause of action is complete, prospective damages reasonably certain to accrue may be recovered as part of the natural and probable consequences of the defendant's action.

Breach of Contract Prospective damages are recoverable in cases involving an anticipatory repudiation of contract. If the breach does not serve to discharge the entire contract but rather gives rise to subsequent actions, future damages must be recovered in successive actions. This type of situation might arise in an action for breach of a lease for the rental of an apartment in which the breach occurs during the fourth month of a twelve-month lease. Successive actions will have to be brought for the breach occurring from the fifth to twelfth months.

Torts Damages in tort actions are not limited to the period that ends with the institution of the lawsuit. In an action for personal injury, for example, the jury can properly consider the potential consequences of an injury that might require a major operation at some time in the future in assessing the present value of an injury as opposed to future damages. Damages can be awarded to a plaintiff who has adequately established that there will be future effects from an injury precipitated by the defendant's misconduct. The amount of certainty required in the assessment of future damages varies from one jurisdiction to another; however, no recovery can be permitted for the mere possibility of future consequences of harm inflicted by the defendant.

Damage to Property All types of damages, including past, current, and prospective, can be recovered in a single action for permanent damage to or trespass on real estate. If the cause of the injury can be abated through an expenditure of labor or money, future damages will not be recovered.

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