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Torts and Damages Case Digest: Amado Picart v. Frank Smith (1918)

G.R. No. L-12219            March 15, 1918
Lessons Applicable: Negligence (Torts and Damages)

  • December 12, 1912: Amado Picart was riding on his pony over Carlatan Bridge, at San Fernando, La Union
    • Before he had gotten half way across, the Frank Smith driving an automobile came from the opposite direction at the rate of about 10-12 miles/hour
      • As Frank Smith neared the bridge he saw a horseman on it and blew his horn to give warning of his approach. 
        • He continued his course and after he had taken the bridge he gave two more successive blasts, as it appeared to him that the man on horseback before him was not observing the rule of the road
      • Amado saw the automobile coming and heard the warning signals
        • being perturbed by the novelty of the apparition or the rapidity of the approach, he pulled the pony closely up against the railing on the right side of the bridge instead of going to the left because he thought he did not have sufficient time to get over to the other side
        • The pony had not as yet exhibited fright, and the rider had made no sign for the automobile to stop
      • When he had gotten quite near, there being then no possibility of the horse getting across to the other side, Frank quickly turned his car sufficiently to the right to escape hitting the horse alongside of the railing but because it got close the horse became frightened and turned its body across the bridge with its head toward the railing
      • The left hind leg was hit by the flange of the car and the limb was broken. The horse fell and its rider was thrown off with some violence. As a result of its injuries the horse died. Amado received contusions which caused temporary unconsciousness and required medical attention for several days.
ISSUE: W/N Frank was negligent in accordance to negligence tests

HELD: YES. lower court must be reversed, and judgment is her rendered that the plaintiff recover of the defendant the sum of two hundred pesos (P200), with costs of other instances. The sum here awarded is estimated to include the value of the horse, medical expenses of the plaintiff, the loss or damage occasioned to articles of his apparel, and lawful interest on the whole to the date of this recovery. The other damages claimed by the plaintiff are remote or otherwise of such character as not to be recoverable
  • Did the defendant in doing the alleged negligent act use that person would have used in the same situation? If not, then he is guilty of negligence
    • The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by reference to the personal judgment of the actor in the situation before him. 
    • The question as to what would constitute the conduct of a prudent man in a given situation must of course be always determined in the light of human experience and in view of the facts involved in the particular case
  • Could a prudent man, in the case under consideration, foresee harm as a result of the course actually pursued? If so, it was the duty of the actor to take precautions to guard against that harm
    • Conduct is said to be negligent when a prudent man in the position of the tortfeasor would have foreseen that an effect harmful to another was sufficiently probable to warrant his foregoing conduct or guarding against its consequences 
  • 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 (wrong side of the road) by an appreciable interval.
    • Under these circumstances the law is that the person who has the last fair chance to avoid the impending harm and fails to do so is chargeable with the consequences, without reference to the prior negligence of the other party.