In torts, proximate causation, or legal cause, examines whether harmful negligent conduct is “closely enough related” to the damages that ensue. Torts professors often use the metaphor of a stone being thrown into a pond to explain this rather amorphous legal doctrine. The ripples the stone creates surrounding it are the direct result of the act of it being thrown. The stone tossed into the pond, i.e., a negligent act, created an effect which perpetuated via ripples to a long distance, forever changing the entire pond, i.e., causing close and far damages. Can all of those affected by the negligent act be compensated? Should they? It is up to proximate causation to determine if a ripple is too remote from the thrown stone to be viewed as its “direct” or “foreseeable” result. However, this does not provide the legal system with a lot of guidance. This is where network theory can be helpful.
The "Accident Network": A Network Theory Analysis of Proximate Causation,
106 Marq. L. Rev. 377
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol106/iss2/5