Anticipating Driver's Negligence

You're driving down the road on a one way street and all of the sudden a car is heading straight toward you, driving the wrong direction, BAM...a collision occurs. Can you be liable under Texas Law for failing to anticipate another driver's negligence? In other words if you bring a lawsuit against the other driver will they be successful in alleging that you should have noticed they were driving the wrong way and therefore avoided the collision? In short...No.

Texas case law has established that a driver is not bound to anticipate negligence on behalf of another driver and is not liable for contributory negligence for not anticipating another driver’s negligence or unlawful acts. 

In DeWinne v. Allen the petitioner, Mr. DeWinne, was driving his car down a one way street in San Antonio, Texas when he failed to see respondent’s car traveling in the wrong direction and the two cars collided.154 Tex. 316, 277 S.W.2d 95 (1955).The Court of Civil Appeals held that there was evidence to support the findings of contributory negligence on behalf of the petitioner for not anticipating the negligence of the respondent; however the Supreme Court of Texas reversed by holding that “a person is not bound to anticipate negligent or unlawful conduct on the part of another.”Id. at 318-20.

In Mrs. Baird’s Bread Company v. Williams the court held similarly to the Supreme Court of Texas in DeWinne v. Allen. Appellee Williams proceeded East on West 12th Street in Titus county, Texas and had the right of way approaching an intersection where appellant was required to stop at a stop sign while yielding to oncoming traffic.Mrs. Baird's Bread Co. v. Williams, 425 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. Civ. App.—Texarkana 1968, writ ref'd n.r.e.). The Court of Civil Appeals held that while appellee, having seen the bread truck approaching on North Van Buren, was not required to anticipate that appellant’s bread truck and driver would negligently or unlawfully fail to yield to appellee the right of way. Id. at 5.

All of this being said, this does not mean a Defense Attorney will not try and make this argument if you bring a lawuit in a situation like this, it just means if they do they will most likely fail.


Additional Texas cases on this issue 

  • See Sonnier v. Ramsey, 424 S.W.2d 684 (Tex. Civ. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1968, writ ref'dn.r.e.)
  • See Lumpkins v. Thompson, 553 S.W.2d 949 (Tex. Civ. App.—Amarillo 1977, writ ref'dn.r.e.)
  • See Mobil Oil Co. v. Dodd, 528 S.W.2d 297 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1975)
  • See Nerio v. Tijerina, 508 S.W.2d 672 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1974)
  • See Rohan v. Baker, 470 S.W.2d 238 (Tex. Civ. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1971, writ ref'dn.r.e.)
  • See Salcido v. Bates, 436 S.W.2d 934 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1968)
  • See Strange v. Colvin, 429 S.W.2d 954 (Tex. Civ. App.—Austin 1968, no writ)
  • See Missouri Pac. R. Co. v. Corpus Christi Hardware Co., 414 S.W.2d 185 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1967)
  • See Browning v. Paiz, 586 S.W.2d 670 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1979)
  • See Fannin v. Hall, 561 S.W.2d 952 (Tex. Civ. App.—Tyler 1978, no writ)
  • See Samford v. Duff, 483 S.W.2d 517 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1972)
  • See Smith v. Texas Pipeline Co., 455 S.W.2d 346 (Tex. Civ. App.—Corpus Christi 1970)


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