Contributory negligence in criminal cases

Contributory Negligence; Definition: The negligence of a person which, while not being the primary cause of a tort, nevertheless combined with the act or omission of the primary defendant to cause the tort, and without which the tort would not have occurred.

"The defense of contributory negligence does not apply in criminal cases committed through reckless imprudence, since one cannot allege the negligence of another to evade the effects of his own negligence." (Manzanares vs. People. G.R. No. 153760. October 16, 2006. 535 Phil. 362)

In the Manzanares case, a vehicular collision took place, involving an Isuzu six-wheeler truck and a passenger jeepney. The Isuzu truck was owned by petitioner Manhattan Enterprises, Inc. and was then driven by petitioner Teodorico Manzanares. The passenger jeepney, on the other hand, was registered in the name of Teodoro Basallo. It was established during the trial that the passenger jeepney was heading southwards in the direction of Manila while the Isuzu truck was heading the opposite way.

The incident resulted in the deaths of the driver of the passenger jeepney Jesus Basallo, Miguel Anas, Ferdinand Exaltacion, and Antonio Pasco. It also inflicted serious physical injuries to some of the passengers of the jeepney, namely: Angela Enriquez, Romeo Espelimbergo, Teresita dela Cruz, Cita Vicente, Jesus Bartolome, Rolando Peralta, and Felicidad Raymundo.

It was petitioners' argument that Jesus Basallo should be presumed negligent because he was driving with an expired license and the passenger jeepney owned by his brother Teodorico did not have a franchise to operate. However, this failed to convince the Supreme Court.

Contributory negligence is a concept in the law on torts. It is a defense in a tort case. It is the failure of an injured plaintiff to act prudently, considered to be a contributory factor in the injury suffered, and sometimes reducing the amount recovered from the defendant.

Even if the plaintiff was negligent, the tortfeasor may still be held liable if he or she had the last clear chance to prevent the injury, meaning that even though the plaintiff was negligent the defendant was the last person with a clear opportunity to take action that would have prevented the plaintiff's injury from occurring. An example of contributory negligence is where a plaintiff actively disregards warnings or fails to take reasonable steps for his or her safety, such as diving in shallow water without checking the depth first.