Last month, an appellate court in New York issued a written opinion in a case brought by the surviving spouse of a motorist who was killed while attempting to assist an escaped farm animal that had wandered onto the highway. In the case, Hain v. Jamison, the court determined that a sufficient link existed between the defendant farm owner’s negligence and the motorist’s death to fulfill the causation requirement. As a result, the plaintiff’s wrongful death lawsuit will be permitted to proceed toward settlement negotiations or trial.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in the case is the surviving husband of a woman who was killed by a passing motorist as she tried to assist an escaped calf that belonged to the defendant. Evidently, the plaintiff’s late wife was driving on a road near the defendant’s farm late one evening when she saw a calf in the middle of the road. She safely pulled over, exited the vehicle, and entered the roadway to assist the calf. Sadly, as she was assisting the calf, another motorist fatally struck her.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the farm owner as well as the motorist. The farm owner explained that the calf had been born earlier that day, and he had not known of its escape until moments before the fatal accident. However, as soon as he became aware of the missing calf, he immediately left the house in search of the escaped animal. Sadly, he was unable to locate the animal before the accident.
In a motion for summary judgment, the farm owner asked the court to dismiss the case against him. The farm owner claimed that, even if he was negligent in allowing the calf to escape, that negligence was too remote a cause of the plaintiff’s wife’s death to establish liability. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.
After Two Appeals, the Plaintiff Is Successful
On the initial appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the defendant. That court determined that the defendant’s alleged negligence only furnished the occasion for the tragic accident but was not the legal cause of the accident.
The plaintiff appealed to the state’s highest court and was successful in getting the intermediate court’s decision reversed. The court held that an accident of this nature was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant allowing a farm animal to escape. The court found that the plaintiff’s wife’s decision to exit her vehicle and enter the roadway was not so extraordinary an event that it severed the chain of causation set in motion by the defendant’s negligence in allowing the animal to escape.
Importantly, the court did not have the occasion to issue a final decision on the merits of the case. This decision only held that the plaintiff’s case was sufficient to establish causation, but it will ultimately be up to a jury to determine if the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s loss.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a negligence or wrongful death lawsuit. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Cecere Santana have ample experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including those involving multiple responsible parties. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case, call 800-753-5529 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Cecere Santana Joins Operation Elf to Collect Toys for Families in Need, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 2, 2016.
Claims Against Florida Public Entities Are Subject to Strict Notice Requirements, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 2, 2017.