Suing the Pedestrian Who Caused the Accident

In a recent news item, a “man who had pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter stemming from a crash near Tampa, Fla., on Christmas Day 2007 now denies causing the crash that killed three of the four people in the vehicle he hit.” Here’s the interesting part — he sued the estate of the other vehicle’s driver, one of those who died in the crash, for allegedly causing the crash by “abruptly changing lanes”. [Florida Man Guilty of DUI Manslaughter Sues Victim]

Let’s relate this to the Philippine setting, particularly Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. This traffic artery is 18 lanes its widest. That’s a very, very wide expanse to cross by foot. It has unlighted or insufficiently lighted portions at night. Despite the existence of footbridges in many areas, despite the huge MMDA warning (“Bawal tumawid dito, nakamamatay”) and despite barriers along the center island, many people still choose to cross Commonwealth Avenue on the ground, without using the footbridge a few meters away.

Now, let’s say you’re driving at night with a speed of 60kph, the maximum along Commonwealth Avenue. Let’s say that when you navigated a light curve, someone suddenly emerged and you had no time to completely stop your vehicle, resulting to injuries or death to the pedestrian. Let’s also say that the police arrived and took you to the police station for further investigation. If you’re not unlucky enough, you’re thrown in jail for the requisite inquest and, since it’s night time, you have to wait until the morning to post bail. In short, even if you’re subsequently acquitted in the criminal case (reckless imprudence resulting to physical injuries or homicide thru reckless imprudence) because it was not your fault in the first place, you spent a couple of hours in jail.

I think the day will come when a driver will actually file a case for damages against the pedestrian who caused the incident. It was not the driver’s fault that the pedestrian, contrary to a clear prohibition, crossed the road without using the footbridge. The driver was absolutely careful in driving. And because of the incident, the driver suffered terrible inconvenience and spent some hours in jail.

If you’re the judge hearing the case, would you rule in favor of the plaintiff-driver? Let’s take a breather from the impeachment drama unfolding at the Senate. Your opinion below.

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