Party at fault in a mishap must be established

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My live-in partner and father of my son died in an accident recently. He was hit by a truck. When I approached the truck company for financial assistance, they denied liability claiming that they were neither liable nor negligent in the incident. I admit that according to police findings, my husband was driving on the wrong side of a one-way street, but shouldn’t they still pay?
Florence

Dear Florence,
According to the Civil Code, “Whoever by act or omission causes damage to another, there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done” (Article 2176). Damage in this article may mean two things: Damage used in the first part of the provision is the loss, hurt or harm which results from injury. While damage used in the latter part refers to the recompense or compensation awarded for the damage suffered (So Ping Bun vs. CA, et al., 314 SCRA 751). On the other hand, fault is that condition where a person acts in a way or manner contrary to what normally should have been done (Dean Ernesto L. Pineda, Torts and Damages Annotated, p. 7). Negligence is defined under Article 1173 of the Civil Code, which states:

“The fault or negligence of the obligor consists in the omission of that diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation and corresponds with the circumstances of the persons, of the time and of the place.

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If the law or contract does not state the diligence which is to be observed in the performance, that which is expected of a good father of a family shall be required.”
A test for determining negligence was stated by the Supreme Court in Picart vs. Smith, 37 Phil. 809 as: “Would a prudent man in the position of a person to whom negligence is attributed, foresee harm to the person injured as a reasonable consequence of the course about to be pursued. If so, the law imposed a duty on the actor to refrain from the course or to take precaution against its mischievous results, and the failure to do so constitutes negligence.” (in Pineda, p.10-11)
It is therefore clear that for anyone to claim damages, there must have been harm or damage to the claimant, which was caused by the fault or negligence of the other party.

While you stated in your letter that your “husband” was partly at fault, you did not state the entire circumstance of the accident. If during that accident, the truck driver was partly at fault, it may be possible for you to still claim partial damages for his death. However, if it was your husband’s fault and the truck driver was not at fault and even took precautions to avoid the incident, then you cannot claim damages from the truck company. If your husband was not at fault at all, damages maybe claimed against the owner and driver of the truck.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

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