Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sustained severe injuries that rendered him permanently disabled when his car was struck by a train operated by the defendant company. The train had been running at a speed of 60 miles per hour. The plaintiff contended that it was not practically possible for him to see past a section building until he was a few feet to the rail. The defendant’s train was hidden by the section building. The plaintiff had been driving at about ten miles per hour, but he slowed to about six miles per hour when he approached the crossing. The plaintiff was well acquainted with the crossing; the railroad was straight, and it was during the day. The plaintiff sued the defendant and sought compensation for the injuries inflicted. However, the defendant company argued that the defendant’s injuries were a ramification of his own negligence and sought a directed verdict. The circuit court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and the judgment was upheld by the court of appeals.

Issue of the Case

The issue in this case is: By not being aware that the train was approaching, did the plaintiff assume risk of a potential accident when he decided to cross the railroad without first alighting from his car and checking whether there a train was coming?

Decision

Yes, the plaintiff assumed risk and is the cause of his own injuries, no damages can be awarded, and the decision is hereby reversed.

Reasons for the Decision

It is common knowledge that the plaintiff must stop for the train. If a driver cannot ascertain whether a train is near so as to pose a danger of an accident, then he must stop and alight from his vehicle to confirm. If does not, he willingly fails to adhere to the standard conduct stipulated for a reasonably careful driver and he will be held responsible for his own injuries or death. Whereas the question of due care is at the discretion of the jury, when the standard of care is clear as in this case, it should be laid down once by all the courts and no verdict can be delivered in favor of the plaintiff who is violation of the clear standard of care.

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