What is Negligence? How do I know if I have a claim?
Case- Ventricelli v. Kinney System Rent A Car, Inc.,45 N.Y.2d 950 (1978)
For a person (Plaintiff) to succeed on a negligence claim, he or she must prove that there is a duty of care that was breached and caused damages. If Plaintiff cannot prove all of these elements, he/she cannot succeed on a negligence claim. In the case Ventricelli v. Kinney System Rent A Car, Plaintiff Ventricelli, was driving a car that he rented from Kinney System Rent a Car. The car had a defective trunk lid that kept popping up as he drove down the road.
At one point Ventricelli pulled over and tried to close the trunk lid. As he was outside of the car at its rear another car came from behind and struck the Plaintiff.
Plaintiff sustained injuries and sued the rental car company on a claim of negligence. Plaintiff’s argument is that the rental car company is liable because “but-for” the trunk being defective he would never have gotten out of the car and thus would never have been struck by the other car.
The Court found that the rental car company was negligent for renting a car with defective trunk and that it was reasonable for the rental car company to know that renting a car with a defective trunk would result in the Plaintiff getting out of the car and trying to fix the trunk. However, the court found that the company was not liable for the Plaintiff’s injuries because they had no reason to know that another car would strike Plaintiff when he got out to fix the defective trunk. Plaintiff did not prove all of the elements of Negligence even though he proved the rental car company had a duty to provide him with a car with a non-defective trunk and they breached this duty. Their breach did not cause the damages because it is not reasonable for the company to expect another car to hit Plaintiff when he got out of the car to fix the trunk.
The Court reasons that it is to far fetched for the rental company to know that Plaintiff would not only get out of the car to fix the trunk but would ultimately be struck by another car. Therefore the court said it was out of the rental car company’s duty to protect Plaintiff from this harm, and the situation was too attenuated to charge the rental car company with negligence.