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In the basic negligence rule that everyone must take “reasonable care” to avoid injury to others, reasonable care can vary with time and place and with the relationship between people, so that the same conduct might be considered negligent in one instance but not in another.  

In the following scenarios, use the framework for identifying business/legal issues to identify, explain and provide a solution for each:

Example 1:  A delivery driver is completing his daily route and is approaching an intersection which allows him the right of way on a green light.  He must suddenly brake for a pedestrian who walked out in front of his truck and proceeded to walk across the street against a red light.  The delivery truck driver fails to stop in time and hits the pedestrian causing serious personal injuries.  

Example 2: A delivery driver is completing his daily route and is approaching an intersection which signals a red light for him to stop.  He does so, but when the light turns green, the vehicle ahead of him does not proceed.  The delivery truck driver becomes agitated and accelerates, hitting the vehicle ahead of him, causing personal injury to the driver of that vehicle.  

Example 3: A delivery driver is completing his daily route and during a severe snow storm, his truck slides off the road and hits a corner store causing severe property damage and injuring an employee.

Example 1: Delivery Driver Hits Pedestrian at Intersection

Whether the delivery driver liable to the pedestrian for the injuries caused to him?

The common law of tort signifies that the defendant is answerable for all those injuries which are caused to the plaintiff because of the acts of the defendant. The liability arose because the defendant is under the duty to provide care against his actions to the plaintiff and because of his breach some loss which is proximate is sustained to the plaintiff. (Russell, 2011)

Thus, there is duty of care that is imposed upon the defendant which he must cater against the plaintiff because the plaintiff is his neighbor (they are proximately connected with each other) (ANNETTS & ANOR -v- AUSTRALIAN STATIONS PTY LTD, 2000) and the impact of defendant acts is reasonable foreseeable (Childs v Desormeaux, 2006). This duty of care when is violated by the defendant by not attaining the level of care that is expected from him then there is breach of duty of care and it is necessary that because of the breach of duty of care some loss which is not remote is incurred because of the breach of actions of the defendant (causation). (Andrew & Tilbury, 2016)

In (Spillane v. Wasserman, 1992) it was held that every driver owns a duty of care to driver in such manner so that no injury is caused to the pedestrians. The duty is imposed against all those impacts which are reasonable foreseeable by the driver. In (Carmarthenshire CC v Lewis , 1955), it was held that if the impact is not reasonable foreseeable then the driver is under no duty to provide care to the pedestrian. (Rachael, 2016)

The facts reveal that a delivery driver is completing his daily route and is approaching an intersection which allows him the right of way on a green light. As per (ANNETTS & ANOR -v- AUSTRALIAN STATIONS PTY LTD, 2000) every driver who is driving is under a legal duty of care that he must driver with all reasonable care so that no injury is caused to any pedestrian because of his non-compliance of duty. This reasonable care is very essential and must be comply with in all circumstances.

During the time when he was driving, a pedestrian walked out in front of his truck. The driver could able to put a sudden brake. It is submitted that at this time the driver was driving within his lane and as per the road rules, that is, when the light was green. He was taking all reasonable care when he was driving and is taking all due care. He was not driving at over speed and thus there is no breach of his reasonable duty of care.

Example 2: Delivery Driver Hits Vehicle in Front of Him

Rather, the pedestrian was walking in a wrong direction that is he was proceeding to walk across the street against a red light. Thus, the pedestrian has not taken adequate reasonable care that is expected from him and has voluntarily assumes the risk. It is because of his own fault that the injury is caused to the pedestrian.

Even if the delivery truck driver fails to stop in time and hits the pedestrian causing serious personal injuries, still, there was no breach of reasonable care on the part of the driver.

Conclusion:

Thus, the delivery driver was carrying out his driving with all reasonable care and driving only when the light was green. The loss that is caused to the pedestrian is because of his own wrong because he moved at the time when the light was red and thus he voluntarily assumes the risk. So the delivery driver is not negligent and must not pay anything to the loss that is sustained by the pedestrian.

Whether the delivery driver can be held negligent in his actions by causing personal injury to the driver of the vehicle?

In driving cases, it is the paramount duty of the driver to drive with all due care in order to avoid any kind of liability in the law of negligence. the driver must act with all reasonable care and precautions is that no injury is caused to his neighbor, pedestrian, with whom the driver shares the relationship of proximity and closeness. (David, 2012)

In the leading case of (Walter v. Plummer, 2011), it was held that the reasonable care that is expected from any driver varies from situation to situation. The court held in the leading case that when the plaintiff to whom the injury is caused is reasonable foreseeable by the driver then the duty of care on the part of the driver is very high and there is elevated degree of care that must be catered by such driver.

It is submitted that the delivery driver is completing his daily route and is approaching an intersection which signals a red light for him to stop. The driver complied with the said signal and put his vehicle at halt. Thus the driver is complying with his duty of care till now.

But the lights turned to be green then the vehicle ahead of him does not proceed. The delivery truck driver becomes agitated and accelerates, hitting the vehicle ahead of him, causing personal injury to the driver of that vehicle. 

Example 3: Delivery Driver Slides off Road Causing Property Damage and Injuries

It is submitted that the driver who is in front of the delivery driver is reasonably foreseeable by the delivery driver. The plaintiff is in front of his vehicle and there is no sudden approach of the plaintiff from any end. Thus, there is very high degree of care that is expected from the delivery driver.

But, this high degree of care that is expected from the delivery driver was not catered by him in an adequate manner, thus, by applying the law in the leading case of (Walter v. Plummer, 2011), it is submitted that the delivery driver has violated his reasonable duty of care and is in breach of the same which has caused injuries to the driver of the other vehicle.

However, the driver of the vehicle is aware that there is delivery driver behind him and there are chances of his vehicle being hit because the lights have turned to be green. Knowing the danger the driver of the vehicle still decided not to move and thus has contributed to his own loss.

Conclusion:  

Thus, the delivery driver is negligent in his actions and is thus liable to compensate for the loss that is caused to the driver of the vehicle. However, the delivery driver can prove that by not moving the vehicle by the driver when the lights turn green they said driver has contributed to his own injury and thus the delivery driver can reduce his liability to the extent the driver of the other vehicle is negligent in his actions.

Whether the driver of the delivery van is found to be negligent in his actions?

When the defendant is negligent in his actions by not complying with his duty of care which has resulted in the loss of the plaintiff then the defendant must compensate for the loss is suffered by the plaintiff. But, when the defendant can prove that the loss that is caused to the plaintiff is not because of the negligence of the defendant but because the loss that is caused to the plaintiff is an act of God, then, it become the reasonable defense under the law of negligence in order to relive the defendant from the liability that is imposed upon him for the losses that are suffered by the plaintiff. In the leading case of (Groenewald v Groenewald , 1998) it was held that when any supervening event which takes place after the action of the defendant has been concluded and such supervening event is the main reason for the loss of the plaintiff, then, the defendant cannot be held liable under the law of negligence and for the losses that are caused to the plaintiff. (Hogan, 2017)

The defendant has taken due reasonable care that is expected from him in the given situation and the act which has resulted in causing harm to the plaintiff is out of the scope of the defendant’s acts or omission.

Now, a delivery driver is completing his daily route.

Since the driver is carrying out his activity within reasonable care thus there is no breach of duty on the part of the driver, however, during a severe snow storm, his truck slides off the road and hits a corner store causing severe property damage and injuring an employee.

Thus, a supervening event incurred which is outside the scope of the driver and which is nt anticipated by the driver himself. So, in such situation, the driver cannot be held to be in violation of his reasonable duty of care.

Conclusion:

Thus, the driver cannot be held negligent in his actions because it is some supervening event which has incurred loss to the property and employee.

Andrew, R., & Tilbury, M. (2016). Divergences in Private Law. Bloomsbury Publishing.

ANNETTS & ANOR -v- AUSTRALIAN STATIONS PTY LTD (2000).

Carmarthenshire CC v Lewis (1955).

Childs v Desormeaux (2006).

David, C. (2012). Torts. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from News and Publications: https://blg.com/en/News-And-Publications/Documents/Torts_Annual_Review_-_MAR2012.pdf

Groenewald v Groenewald (1998).

Hogan, L. (2017). Novus actus interveniens. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from https://www.hoganlovells.com/en/publications/novus-actus-interveniens

Rachael, M. (2016). Medical Negligence: Non-Patient and Third Party Claims. Routledge.

Russell, B. (2011). Pure Economic Loss in Canadian Negligence Law. LexisNexis.

Spillane v. Wasserman (1992).

Walter v. Plummer (2011).

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