Torts Outline - I A INTRODUCTION TO ACCIDENTAL INJURIES...

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I. INTRODUCTION TO ACCIDENTAL INJURIES A. When should unintended injury result in Liability? The fundamental issue addressed by a system of tort liability for unintended injury is when losses should be shifted from an injury victim to an injurer or some other source of compensation Hammontree v. Jenner o judge applied negligence standard in instruction; plaintiff wanted strict liability (no-fault: if you crash, you’re liable) o Strict liability is more for products cases—because business (client and producer) has a stronger relationship, greater sense of duty o Court also says strict liability cannot be applied to automobiles—too broad and vague—an issue for the legislature o Why drop negligence? Probably Jenner too credible a witness to be accused of not taking care of his ailment o Legislature can change common law/tort law by passing a law o In essence Hammontree herself is strictly liable, she bears the costs o DMV not liable because they did their job because they determined him ok to have a license. Against a govt agency, it’s harder to collect. They would have been liable if they decided he was a risk, but gave him a license anyway. o Doctor not liable because he evaluated likelihood to have seizures. Must show that doctor acted unreasonably and violated the standards of the profession (get another doctor to say he acted below the standards of the profession) Court structure NY as unique: Supreme Court—Appellate Division of the supreme court—court of appeals B. Who Really Pays? An Interplay between Negligence and Strict Liability? If a minor is hurt, suit generally will be brought on her behalf by her parent or guardian, and a damage award will be divided so that the minor will recover for any permanent physical harm (trust) and her parent will recover medical expenses An infant who is born alive may sue through a guardian for harm suffered before birth Two interests regarding a deceased victim: o Victim’s interest in her own bodily security o Her dependents’ interest in continued economic support and in other factors we shall consider later Vicarious Liability Vicarious liability makes one liable for another’s wrongful conduct special “relationship”—technically is liability without fault Difference between vicarious liability and negligent entrustment o With vicarious liability, you’ve done nothing tortious yourself—you just have a relationship with someone else that justifies making you liable for their torts 1
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o With negligent entrustment—you did something tortious by lending something (usually a car) to someone you should have known was likely to use the loaned object to harm others Respondeat Superior Christensen v. Swenson (Sup Ct of Utah, 1994) o Facts: Defendant Swenson, a Burns employee, was on a break from work when she struck a motorcyclist with her car. The motorcyclist sued both Swenson and Burns.
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