PICART VS. SMITH (1918)

Posted: May 5, 2013 in case digests
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G.R. No. L-12219 March 15, 1918

Amado Picart, plaintiff-appellant

vs.

Frank Smith Jr., defendant-appellee

FACTS:

  • Plaintiff Amado Picart appealed because the Court of First Instance absolved defendant Frank Smith Jr.
  • Picart was riding on his pony on the bridge. The defendant was riding on his car from the opposite directions when he approached Picart. Smith blew his horn to give warnings but Picart moved his horse to the right instead of moving to the left because he thought that he had no sufficient time to move to the right direction.
  • Defendant continued to move towards the left side but when he got near the plaintiff and the horse, the animal became frightened that it turned its body across the bridge.
  • The limb of the horse was broken and it died. The plaintiff was thrown off and suffered injuries. He also required medical attention for several days.
  • The plaintiff filed an action for damages against the defendant.

ISSUE:

  • Whether or not the defendant in maneuvering his car in the manner described was guilty of negligence such as it gives rise to a civil obligation to repair the damage done.

HELD:

  • Yes, the defendant Frank Smith Jr. was guilty of negligence.
  • As Smith started to across the bridge, he had the right to assume that the horse and the rider would pass over the proper side. But as he approached toward the center of the bridge, he can see to his eyes that this won’t be done; and he must in a moment have known that it was too late for the horse to cross with safety in front of the moving vehicle. In the nature of things, this change of situation occurred while it was no longer within the power of the plaintiff to escape being run don by going to a place of a greater safety. The control of the situation had then passed to the defendant.
  • The test by which to determine the existence of negligence in a particular case may be stated as follows.
  • Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that reasonable care and caution which an ordinarily prudent person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence. Conduct is said to be negligent when a prudent man in the position of the tortfeasor would have foreseen than an effect harmful to another was sufficiently probable to warrant his foregoing the conduct or guarding against its consequences.
  • It goes without saying that Plaintiff was not free from fault, for he was guilty of antecedent negligence in planting himself in the wrong side of the road. But as we have already stated, the defendant was also negligent; and in such case, the problem is always to discover which agent is immediately and directly responsible. It will be noted that the negligent acts of the two parties were not contemporaneous, since the negligence of the defendant succeeded the negligence of the plaintiff by an appreciable interval.
  • Under the circumstances, the law is that the person who has the last clear chance to avoid the impending harm and fails to do it is chargeable with the consequences, without reference to the prior negligence of the other party.
  • The last clear chance rule of the law of negligence is particularly applied to automobile accidents. This rule cannot be invoked where the negligence of the plaintiff is concurrent with that of the defendant.
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