G.R. No. L-57079 September 29, 1989
A jeep driven by private respondent Esteban fell into an open trench, the excavation was due to the installation of an underground conduit system by PLDT, the said open trench was without cover and any warning signs.
As a result the private respondent and his wife sustained injuries, and their vehicle was also damaged.
PLDT in its defense, imputes the injuries to the private respondents own negligence. Also, it alleges that L.R. Barte and company acting as an independent contractor, should be responsible for the excavation was performed by them.
As for Barte, they alleged that they have complied with the due standards in performing their work, and that it was not aware of the accident involving the Estebans.
Court of Appeals held that respondent Esteban spouses were negligent and consequently absolved petitioner PLDT from the claim for damages.
Upon respondent’s second motion to reconsideration, CA reversed its decision, following he decision of Trial Court and held PLDT liable for damages.
Whether or not PLDT is liable
We find no error in the findings of the respondent court in its original decision that the accident which befell private respondents was due to the lack of diligence of respondent Antonio Esteban and was not imputable to negligent omission on the part of petitioner PLDT.
The presence of warning signs could not have completely prevented the accident; the only purpose of said signs was to inform and warn the public of the presence of excavations on the site. The private respondents already knew of the presence of said excavations. It was not the lack of knowledge of these excavations which caused the jeep of respondents to fall into the excavation but the unexplained sudden swerving of the jeep from the inside lane towards the accident mound. As opined in some quarters, the omission to perform a duty, such as the placing of warning signs on the site of the excavation, constitutes the proximate cause only when the doing of the said omitted act would have prevented the injury. It is basic that private respondents cannot charge PLDT for their injuries where their own failure to exercise due and reasonable care was the cause thereof. It is both a societal norm and necessity that one should exercise a reasonable degree of caution for his own protection. Furthermore, respondent Antonio Esteban had the last clear chance or opportunity to avoid the accident, notwithstanding the negligence he imputes to petitioner PLDT. As a resident of Lacson Street, he passed on that street almost everyday and had knowledge of the presence and location of the excavations there. It was his negligence that exposed him and his wife to danger, hence he is solely responsible for the consequences of his imprudence.
A person claiming damages for the negligence of another has the burden of proving the existence of such fault or negligence causative thereof. The facts constitutive of negligence must be affirmatively established by competent evidence. Whosoever relies on negligence for his cause of action has the burden in the first instance of proving the existence of the same if contested, otherwise his action must fail.