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G.R. No. L-12219 – 37 Phil. 809 – Civil Law – Torts and Damages – Doctrine of Last Clear Chance
In December 1912, Amado Picart was riding his horse and while they were on a 75 meter long bridge, he saw Frank Smith Jr.’s car approaching. Smith blew his horn thrice while he was still at a distance away because Picart and his horse were on Smith’s lane. But Picart did not move his horse to the other lane, instead he moved his horse closer to the railing. Smith continued driving towards Picart without slowing down and when he was already so near the horse he swerved to the other lane. But the horse got scared so it turned its body across the bridge; the horse struck the car and its limb got broken. Picart suffered injuries which required several days of medical attention while the horse eventually died.
ISSUE: Whether or not Smith is negligent.
HELD: Yes. And so was Picart for planting himself on the wrong side of the road. But Smith’s negligence succeeded that of Picart. Smith saw at a distance when he blew his horn that Picart and his horse did not move to the other lane so he should have steered his car to the other lane at that point instead of swerving at the last minute. He therefore had the last clear chance to avoid the unfortunate incident. When Smith’s car has approached the horse at such proximity it left no chance for Picart to extricate himself and vigilance on his part will not avert injury. Picart can therefore recover damages from Smith but such should be proportioned by reason of his contributory negligence.