A Winter Mishap

Date: December 30, 2009
Posted In: DLP Law

Fred and Ethel were on their way up to Club Babaloo to visit their good friends, Lucy and Ricky, for a New Years’ celebration. It was dark, but the roads were in good condition, and the ride had been uneventful.

As they approached the end of their trip, Fred was driving in his usual cautious manner when, all of a sudden, his car started to slide to the right to the point where the couple ended up in a ditch. Fortunately, the couple was not hurt because they were wearing their seatbelts, but their car sustained significant damage.

When the Sheriff Taylor arrived at the scene of the mishap, he examined the accident scene. The Sheriff found that there was a large buildup of ice on the road at the bottom of Mr. Haskell\’s driveway. Apparently, that day, Mr. Haskell was washing his car outside because of the clear weather, and the water ran down the Haskell driveway. At night, it froze, causing quite a slick spot.

Issue: Is Mr. Haskell responsible for the damage caused to Fred and Ethel\’s car?

Answer: Yes. Through his activities, Mr. Haskell has unintentionally created an artificially dangerous condition on a public highway. By allowing the water to run off his driveway onto a public road, which eventually formed ice, he unwittingly created a very dangerous condition which led to the accident. Mr. Haskell will have to pay for the automobile repairs to the damaged vehicle.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.