Law News

Driver in collision, to be sued for reckless imprudence

Dear PAO,
I was carefully driving my car along EDSA Avenue when the vehicle in front of me suddenly stopped, causing a collision. When I asked the driver why he suddenly stopped, he said it was because another car cut him. Nonetheless, he wanted to sue me for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property. Will it prosper? What could be my defense?

Dear Felicia,
Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines defines Reckless Imprudence, to wit:

“Xxx consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.”

Based on your narration, your act of “carefully” driving your car could be your defense, including the “cutting” by another vehicle, which caused the car you bumped to suddenly halt. These could manifest that you were not negligent in the operation of your vehicle and that in fact, it was the third “cutting” vehicle that could be faulted for the collision.

In the case of Rogelio J. Gonzaga vs. People of the Philippines (GR 195671, Jan. 21, 2015, Ponente: Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe), the Supreme Court elucidated on the following:

“In order to establish a motorist’s liability for the negligent operation of a vehicle, it must be shown that there was a direct causal connection between such negligence and the injuries or damages complained of. To constitute the offense of reckless driving, the act must be something more than a mere negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle — a willful and wanton disregard of the consequences is required. (Dumayag v. People, G.R. No. 172778, November 26, 2012) Willful, wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others within the meaning of reckless driving statutes has been held to involve a conscious choice of a course of action which injures another, either with knowledge of serious danger to others involved, or with knowledge of facts which would disclose the danger to any reasonable person. Verily, it is the inexcusable lack of precaution or conscious indifference to the consequences of the conduct which supplies the criminal intent and brings an act of mere negligence and imprudence under the operation of the penal law, without regard to whether the private offended party may himself be considered likewise at fault. [Caminos, Jr. v. People, 605 Phil. 422, 434-435 (2009)]”

From the foregoing jurisprudence, it is clear that the driver of the car you bumped must be able to prove, for the case to prosper, that you, Felicia, employed a conscious choice of a course of action that led to the accident. Absent this, you cannot be said to have acted in willful, wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to

By: Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta