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Court Finds Farmer May Be Liable for Car Accident Death Caused by Escaped Livestock

A few weeks ago, an appellate court in New York issued an interesting opinion in a car accident case discussing the ever-present element of foreseeability in personal injury cases. In the case, Hain v. Jamison, the court ended up agreeing with the trial judge that the plaintiff’s wife’s death was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant farm owner’s negligence in allowing an animal to escape.

CalfThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case is the husband of a woman who was struck and killed by a passing car as she tried to help an escaped farm animal that had wandered onto the road. After his wife’s death, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver of the car that struck his wife as well as the owner of the escaped animal. This opinion deals with the question of whether the farm owner’s alleged negligence in failing to properly maintain a fence to secure the animal could foreseeably have caused the death of the plaintiff’s wife.

The trial judge initially denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, but that decision was reversed on appeal to the intermediate appellate court. That court held that the defendant’s alleged negligence “merely furnished the occasion for, but did not cause, [the plaintiff’s wife] to enter the roadway, where she was struck.” The plaintiff appealed to the state’s highest court.

On Appeal, the Case Is Reversed in Favor of the Plaintiff

The state’s highest court agreed with the trial judge and reversed the intermediate appellate court’s decision. The court rejected the defendant’s main argument, which was that the plaintiff’s wife’s decision to exit the safety of her car after safely pulling over to the side of the road was “extraordinary” and should act to sever the chain of causation leading to the defendant’s ultimate liability.

The court explained that the farm owner was under an ongoing duty to locate and retrieve the escaped animal, and it was completely foreseeable that an escaped animal could wander into the road, causing a traffic accident. The plaintiff’s wife’s actions in getting out of the car were not an “unrelated” or “fortuitous” occurrence but instead were directly related to the farm owner’s negligence. As a result, the trial court was proper in denying the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and allowing the case to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary damages to help you recoup the costs associated with your injuries and losses. The above discussion illustrates that personal injury cases come in all forms and may be brought against multiple at-fault parties. The skilled injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cohn & Smith have the experience and skill you need to feel comfortable leaving your case in their hands. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up an attorney to discuss your case free of charge.

Related Blog Posts:

Johnson & Johnson Seeks to Reverse $65 Million Baby Powder Verdict, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, November 16, 2016.

Federal Appellate Court Finds Insurance Company May Have Unreasonably Delayed Coverage, Exposing the Company to Additional Damages, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, December 1, 2016.

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