Differences between culpa aquiliana, crime

According to Article 1157 of the Civil Code, there are five (5) sources of obligations: law, contracts, quasi-contracts, delicts and quasi-delicts. Quasi-delict is a separate source of obligation under Article 1157.

Art. 100. Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable. (Revised Penal Code)

Art. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff cannot recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant. (Civil Code)

Authorities support the proposition that a quasi-delict or "culpa aquiliana " is a separate legal institution under the Civil Code with a substantivity all its own, and individuality that is entirely apart and independent from delict or crime. (G.R. No. L-48006. July 8, 1942)

Section 2, Rule 2, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure defines cause of action as the act or omission by which a party violates the right of another. Such act or omission gives rise to an obligation which may come from law, contracts, quasi contracts, delicts or quasi-delicts.

Corollarily, an act or omission causing damage to another may give rise to two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender, i.e., 1) civil liability ex delicto; and 2) independent civil liabilities, such as those (a) not arising from an act or omission complained of as felony (e.g., culpa contractual or obligations arising from law; the intentional torts; and culpa aquiliana); or (b) where the injured party is granted a right to file an action independent and distinct from the criminal action. Either of these two possible liabilities may be enforced against the offender.

Stated otherwise, victims of negligence or their heirs have a choice between an action to enforce the civil liability arising from culpa criminal under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, and an action for quasi-delict (culpa aquiliana) under Articles 2176 to 2194 of the Civil Code. If, as here, the action chosen is for quasi-delict, the plaintiff may hold the employer liable for the negligent act of its employee, subject to the employers defense of exercise of the diligence of a good father of the family. On the other hand, if the action chosen is for culpa criminal, the plaintiff can hold the employer subsidiarily liable only upon proof of prior conviction of its employee. (G.R. No. 158995. September 26, 2006)

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