Brief Fact Summary. Brame (Defendant) parked his vehicle on a highway at night without warning lights or signals. Chaffin (Plaintiff) collided with the truck, and the driver filed an action for property damage. The trial court in Lincoln County (North Carolina) entered the jury’s verdict that the Plaintiff was damaged by the truck driver’s negligence and that the Plaintiff driver was not contributorily negligent. Defendant appealed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A person is not bound to anticipate negligent acts or omissions on the part of others; but in the absence of anything which gives or should give notice to the contrary, he is entitled to assume and to act upon the assumption that every other person will perform his duty and obey the law and that he will not be exposed to danger which can come to him only from the violation of duty or law by such other person.
Issue. Was Plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence in his failure to avert collision with the parked vehicle?
Held. The court ruled that Plaintiff had no reason to anticipate that the Defendant’s truck had been left standing on the traveled portion of the highway ahead of him without lights or warning signals. He did everything possible to avert the collision as soon as the truck became visible, and thus Plaintiff was not guilty of contributory negligence as a matter of law.
Conduct of the plaintiff on this occasion must be judged in the light of the general principle that the law does not require a person to shape his behavior by circumstances of which he is justifiably ignorant, and the resultant particular rule that a plaintiff cannot be guilty of contributory negligence unless he acts or fails to act with knowledge and appreciation, either actual or constructive, of the danger of injury which his conduct involves.View Full Point of Law