Liability in Personal Injury Cases

Liability in Personal Injury Cases – Actual court case

The plaintiff was injured while a guest in an automobile owned by her daughter. The automobile suddenly swerved from the high-way and crashed into a tree. The evidence failed to show any cause for the sudden swerve. The weather was clear, the highway was in good condition, and there was little traffic upon it. Get a general auto insurance quote now.

The Court held:
“The defendant failed to give such evidence. The cause of the accident remains undisclosed and unexplained. The question now presented is whether without such explanation the circumstances under which the accident occurred raised an inference or presumption that it was due to the negligence of the driver.

“It may be conceded that the defendants, by reason of their control and management of the automobile, are in a better position to furnish an explanation of the cause of the accident than the plaintiff. Failure to give such explanation, it is said, is suspicious and requires the conclusion that their testimony would not be favorable to them. …

“It is common knowledge that a sudden swerve of an automobile may be due to many causes. We may assume that an automobile nevertheless does not suddenly swerve under ordinary conditions where it is carefully operated and carefully maintained. . . .

“Here the plaintiff was only a guest in the car. She assumed the risk of any defect in the automobile which was not known to the defendants. They assumed the duty to exercise reasonable care for her protection in the operation of the automobile. They were under no duty to exercise care to discover and repair defects not known to them. The evidence, though unexplained, cannot possibly lead to an inference that the accident was due to lack of care in the operation of the automobile, for the probability that it occurred from a break in its mechanism is at least equally great. . .


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