Last clear chance doctrine

The doctrine of last clear chance provides that where both parties are negligent but the negligent act of one is appreciably later in point of time than that of the other, or where it is impossible to determine whose fault or negligence brought about the occurrence of the incident, the one who had the last clear opportunity to avoid the impending harm but failed to do so, is chargeable with the consequences arising therefrom. Stated differently, the rule is that the antecedent negligence of a person does not preclude recovery of damages caused by the supervening negligence of the latter, who had the last fair chance to prevent the impending harm by the exercise of due diligence.[1]In one case, the Supreme Court found the doctrine of last clear chance inapplicable. In the case of PNR v. Vizcara, the proximate cause of the collision was the petitioners’ negligence in ensuring that motorists and pedestrians alike may safely cross the railroad track. The unsuspecting driver and passengers of the jeepney did not have any participation in the occurrence of the unfortunate incident which befell them. Likewise, they did not exhibit any overt act manifesting disregard for their own safety. Thus, absent preceding negligence on the part of the respondents, the doctrine of last clear chance cannot be applied. (G.R. No. 190022, February 15, 2012)

[1] Canlas v. Court of Appeals, 383 Phil. 315, 324 (2000), citing Philippine Bank of Commerce v. CA, 336 Phil. 667, 680 (1997), citing LBC Air Cargo, Inc. v. CA, 311 Phil. 715, 722-724 (1995); Picart v. Smith, 37 Phil. 809, 814 (1915); Pantranco North Express, Inc. v. Baesa, 258-A Phil. 975, 980 (1989); Glan People’s Lumber and Hardware v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 255 Phil. 447 (1989).

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