You are on page 1of 8

ISRAEL, John Patrick Abrico- Burden of proof in negligence cases; Quantum of proof required;

Presumptions; Arts. 2184 & 2185, Anonuevo v. CA, G.R. No. 130003, October 20, 2004; Art.
2188, NCC; Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor; Requisites (Rogelio Ramos v. CA, et al, G.R. No.
124354, Dec. 29, 1999; Macalinao v. Ong, G.R. No. 146635, Dec. 14, 2005 ;

Burden of proof in negligence cases

In quasi delict cases, there is no presumption of negligence and it is incumbent upon the injured
party to prove the negligence of the defendant, as well as the connection of such negligence to the
injury sustained.

Quantum of proof Required

The quantum of evidence required in torts or quasi-delicts is only preponderance of evidence.


Article 2184. In motor vehicle mishaps, the owner is solidarily liable with his driver, if the former,
who was in the vehicle, could have, by the use of the due diligence, prevented the misfortune. It is
disputably presumed that a driver was negligent, if he had been found guilty of reckless driving or
violating traffic regulations at least twice within the next preceding two months.

If the owner was not in the motor vehicle, the provisions of article 2180 are applicable. (n)

Article 2180. The obligation imposed by article 2176 is demandable not only for one's own acts
or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

The father and, in case of his death or incapacity, the mother, are responsible for the damages
caused by the minor children who live in their company.

Guardians are liable for damages caused by the minors or incapacitated persons who are under
their authority and live in their company.

The owners and managers of an establishment or enterprise are likewise responsible for damages
caused by their employees in the service of the branches in which the latter are employed or on the
occasion of their functions.

Employers shall be liable for the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting
within the scope of their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business
or industry.
The State is responsible in like manner when it acts through a special agent; but not when the
damage has been caused by the official to whom the task done properly pertains, in which case
what is provided in article 2176 shall be applicable.

Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused by
their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in their custody.

The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove
that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage. (1903a)

Article 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is presumed that a person driving a motor
vehicle has been negligent if at the time of the mishap, he was violating any traffic regulation. (n)

Anonuevo v. CA, G.R. No. 130003, October 20, 2004

Villagracia was traveling along Boni Ave. on his bicycle, while Añonuevo,traversing
the opposite lane was driving a Lancer car owned by Procter and Gamble Inc., the
employer of Añonuevo’s brother. Añonuevo was in the course of making a left turn
towards Libertad Street when the collision occurred.

Villagracia sustained serious injuries and had to undergo four operations. Villagracia
instituted an action for damages against P&G Phils., Inc. and Añonuevo before the
RTC. He had also filed a criminal complaint against Añonuevo before the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong, but the latter was subsequently acquitted
of the criminal charge.

Añonuevo claims that Villagracia violated traffic regulations when he failed to

register his bicycle or install safety gadgets. He posits that Article 2185 of the Civil
Code applies by analogy. Article 2185. Unless there is proof to the contrary, it is
presumed that a person driving a motor vehicle has been negligent if at the time of
the mishap he was violating any traffic regulation.

A. Whether or not Art. 2185 of the New Civil Code should apply to non-motorized
vehicles, making Villagracia presumptively negligent.
B. Whether or not Villagracia was negligent for failure to comply with traffic
C. Whether or not Villagracia is guilty of contributory negligence

Held: No to all.

A. Application of Article 2185

Anonuevo claims that Villagracia violated traffic regulations when he failed to register his bicycle
or install safety gadgets thereon. He posits that Article 2185 of the New Civil Code applies by
Aononuevo hypothesizes that Article 2185 should apply by analogy to all types of vehicles[23]. He
points out that modern-day travel is more complex now than when the Code was enacted, the
number and types of vehicles now in use far more numerous than as of then. He even suggests that
at the time of the enactment of the Code, the legislators must have seen that only motor vehicles
were of such public concern that they had to be specifically mentioned, yet today, the interaction
of vehicles of all types and nature has inescapably become matter of public concern so as to expand
the application of the law to be more responsive to the times.[24]
At the time Article 2185 was formulated, there existed a whole array of non-motorized vehicles
ranging from human-powered contraptions on wheels such as bicycles, scooters, and animal-drawn
carts such as calesas and carromata. These modes of transport were even more prevalent on the
roads of the 1940s and 1950s than they are today, yet the framers of the New Civil Code chose
then to exclude these alternative modes from the scope of Article 2185 with the use of the term
motorized vehicles. If Aonuevo seriously contends that the application of Article 2185 be
expanded due to the greater interaction today of all types of vehicles, such argument contradicts
historical experience. The ratio of motorized vehicles as to non-motorized vehicles, as it stood in
1950, was significantly lower than as it stands today. This will be certainly affirmed by statistical
data, assuming such has been compiled, much less confirmed by persons over sixty. Aonuevos
characterization of a vibrant intra-road dynamic between motorized and non-motorized vehicles is
more apropos to the past than to the present.
There is pertinent basis for segregating between motorized and non-motorized
vehicles. A motorized vehicle, unimpeded by the limitations in physical exertion. Is
capable of greater speeds and acceleration than non-motorized vehicles. At the same
time, motorized vehicles are more capable in inflicting greater injury or damage in
the event of an accident or collision. This is due to a combination of factors peculiar
to the motor vehicle, such as the greater speed, its relative greater bulk of mass, and
greater combustibility due to the use of fuel.

A driver of an automobile, under such circumstances, is required to use a greater degree of care
than drivers of animals, for the reason that the machine is capable of greater destruction, and
furthermore, it is absolutely under the power and control of the driver; whereas, a horse or other
animal can and does to some extent aid in averting an accident.

B. Negligience on the part of Villagracia

The existence of negligence in a given case is not determined by the personal judgment
of the actor in a given situation, but rather, it is the law which determines what would be
reckless or negligent. Añonuevo asserts that Villagracia was negligent as the latter
had transgressed traffic regulations. However, Añonuevo was speeding as hemade the
left turn, and by his own admission, he had seen Villagracia at a good distance of ten (10) meters.
Had he been decelerating, as he should, as he made the turn, Aonuevo would have had ample
opportunity to avoid hitting Villagracia, such negligent act was the proximate cause of the
Even assuming that Añonuevo had failed to see Villagracia because the bicycle was
not equipped with headlights, such lapse on the cyclist’s part would not have
acquitted the driver of his duty to slow down as he proceeded to make the left turn.

Article 2188. There is prima facie presumption of negligence on the part of the defendant if the
death or injury results from his possession of dangerous weapons or substances, such as firearms
and poison, except when the possession or use thereof is indispensable in his occupation or
business. (n)
The burden of evidence is upon the defendant to prove that he is not negligent at all. The
presumption prevails if he fails to overcome it by clear and convincing evidence.

Doctrtine of Res Ipsa Liquotur – it literally means, “the thing or transaction speaks for itself”
1. The occurrence of an injury
2. The thing which caused the injury was under the control and management of the defendant
3. The occurrence was such that in the ordinary course of things, would not have happened if
those who had control or management used proper care; and
4. The absence of explanation by the defendant.

Ramos vs Court of Appeals

GR No. 124354 December 29, 1999

Facts: Plaintiff Erlinda Ramos was a 47-year old robust woman. Except for occasional complaints
of discomfort due to pains allegedly caused by presence of a stone in her gall bladder, she was as
normal as any other woman. Because of the discomforts somehow interfered with her normal
ways, she sought professional advice. She was told to undergo an operation for the removal of a
stone in her gall bladder. She underwent series of examination which revealed that she was fit for
the said surgery. Through the intercession of a mutual friend, she and her husband met Dr. Osaka
for the first time and she was advised by Dr. Osaka to go under the operation called
cholecystectomy and the same was agreed to be scheduled on June 17,1985 at 9:00am at the Delos
Santos Medical Center. Rogelio asked Dr. Osaka to look for a good anesthesiologist to which the
latter agreed to. A day before the scheduled operation, she was admitted at the hospital and on the
day of the operation. Her sister-in-law, Herminda Cruz, who was the Dean of the College of
Nursing at the Capitol Medical Center, was also there for moral support.. Dr. Osaka arrived at the
hospital late, Dr. Guttierez, the anesthesiologist, started to intubate Erlinda when Herminda heard
her say that intubating Erlinda is quite difficult and there were complications. This prompted Dr.
Osaka to order a call to another anesthesiologist, Dr. Caldron who successfully intubated Erlinda.
The patient’s nails became bluish and the patient was placed in a trendelenburg position. After the
operation, Erlinda was diagnosed to be suffering from diffuse cerebral parenchymal damage and
that the petitioner alleged that this was due to lack of oxygen supply to Erlinda’s brain which
resulted from the intubation.

Issue: Whether or not the doctors and the hospital are liable for damages against petitioner for the
result of the said operation.

Held: Yes. The private respondents were unable to disprove the presumption of negligence on
their part in the care of Erlinda and their negligence was the proximate case of her condition.

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is simply a recognition of the postulate that, as a matter of
common knowledge and experience, the very nature of certain types of occurrences may justify an
inference of negligence on the part of the person who controls the instrumentality causing the
injury in the absence of some explanation by the defendant who is charged with negligence.

However, much has been said that res ipsa loquitur is not a rule of substantive law and, as such,
does not create or constitute an independent or separate ground of liability.[17] Instead, it is
considered as merely evidentiary or in the nature of a procedural rule.[18] It is regarded as a mode
of proof, or a mere procedural convenience since it furnishes a substitute for, and relieves a plaintiff
of, the burden of producing specific proof of negligence.[19] In other words, mere invocation and
application of the doctrine does not dispense with the requirement of proof of negligence.

Before resort to the doctrine may be allowed, the following requisites must be satisfactorily shown:
1. The accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someones
2. It is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant or
defendants; and
3. The possibility of contributing conduct which would make the plaintiff responsible is
Medical malpractice cases do not escape the application of this doctrine. Thus, res ipsa
loquitur has been applied when the circumstances attendant upon the harm are themselves of
such a character as to justify an inference of negligence as the cause of that harm. The
application of res ipsa loquitur in medical negligence cases presents a question of law since
it is a judicial function to determine whether a certain set of circumstances does, as a matter
of law, permit a given inference.

Although generally, expert medical testimony is relied upon in malpractice suits to prove that a
physician has done a negligent act or that he has deviated from the standard medical procedure,
when the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is availed by the plaintiff, the need for expert medical
testimony is dispensed with because the injury itself provides the proof of negligence.
skilled in that particular practice. It must be conceded that the doctrine of res ipsa liquitor can have
no application in a suit against a physician or surgeon which involves the merits of a diagnosis or
of a scientific treatment.

Scientific studies point out that intubation problems are responsible for 1/3 of deaths and serious
injuries associated with anesthesia. Nevertheless, 98% or the vast majority of difficult intubation
may be anticipated by performing a thorough evaluation of the patient’s airway prior to the
operation. As stated beforehand, respondent, Dra. Guttierez failed to observe the proper pre-
operative protocol which could have prevented this unfortunate incident. Had appropriate
diligence and reasonable care been used in the pre-operative evaluation, respondent physician
could have been more prepared to meet the contingency brought about by the perceived atomic
variations in the patient’s neck and oral area; defects which could have been easily overcome by a
prior knowledge of those variations together with a change in technique. In other words, an
experienced anesthesiologist, adequately alerted by a thorough pre-operative evaluation, would
have had little difficulty going around the short neck and potruding teeth. Having failed to observe
common medical standards in pre-operative management and intubation, respondent Dra.
Guttierez negligence resulted in cerebral anoxia and eventual coma of Erlinda.

We find the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur appropriate in the case at bar. As will hereinafter be
explained, the damage sustained by Erlinda in her brain prior to a scheduled gall bladder operation
presents a case for the application of res ipsa loquitur.
In the present case, Erlinda submitted herself for cholecystectomy and expected a routine
general surgery to be performed on her gall bladder. On that fateful day she delivered her person
over to the care, custody and control of private respondents who exercised complete and exclusive
control over her. At the time of submission, Erlinda was neurologically sound and, except for a
few minor discomforts, was likewise physically fit in mind and body. However, during the
administration of anesthesia and prior to the performance of cholecystectomy she suffered
irreparable damage to her brain. Considering that a sound and unaffected member of the body (the
brain) is injured or destroyed while the patient is unconscious and under the immediate and
exclusive control of the physicians, we hold that a practical administration of justice dictates the
application of res ipsa loquitur. Upon these facts and under these circumstances the Court would
be able to say, as a matter of common knowledge and observation, if negligence attended the
management and care of the patient. Moreover, the liability of the physicians and the hospital in
this case is not predicated upon an alleged failure to secure the desired results of an operation nor
on an alleged lack of skill in the diagnosis or treatment as in fact no operation or treatment was
ever performed on Erlinda. Thus, upon all these initial determination a case is made out for the
application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
Nonetheless, in holding that res ipsa loquitur is available to the present case we are not saying
that the doctrine is applicable in any and all cases where injury occurs to a patient while under
anesthesia, or to any and all anesthesia cases. Each case must be viewed in its own light and
scrutinized in order to be within the res ipsa loquitur coverage.

Macalinao v. Ong, G.R. No. 146635, Dec. 14, 2005

Facts: Macalinao and Ong were employed as utility man and driver, respectively, at the Genetron
International Marketing (Genetron), owned and operated by Sebastian. On 25 April 1992,
Sebastian instructed Macalinao, Ong and two truck helpers to deliver a heavy piece of machinery
reactor/motor for mixing chemicals, to Sebastians manufacturing plant in Angat, Bulacan. While
in the process of complying with the order, the vehicle driven by Ong, Genetrons Isuzu Elf truck
hit and bumped the front portion of a private jeepney along Caypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan at
around 11:20 in the morning.

Both vehicles incurred severe damages while the passengers sustained physical injuries as
a consequence of the collision. Macalinao incurred the most serious injuries. Macalinaos body was
paralyzed and immobilized from the neck down as a result of the accident and per doctors advice,
his foot was amputated. He also suffered from bed sores and infection. Before he died, Macalinao
was able to file an action for damages against both Ong and Sebastian before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 81. RTC: Ong negligent and Sebastian failed to exercise the
diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of Ong thus ordering them
jointly liable to pay actual, moral, and exemplary damages as well as civil indemnity for
Macalinao’s death
CA: reversed for lack of evidence
ISSUE: W/N Ong may be held liable under the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur

RULING: YES. Contrary to the conclusion of the appellate court, the evidence on record
coupled with the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur sufficiently establishes Ongs negligence.

The photographs clearly shows that the road where the mishap occurred is marked by a line at the
center separating the right from the left lane. While ending up at the opposite lane is not conclusive
proof of fault in automobile collisions, the position of the two vehicles gives rise to the conclusion
that it was the Isuzu truck which hit the private jeepney rather than the other way around.
Based on the angle at which it stopped, the private jeepney obviously swerved to the right in an
unsuccessful effort to avoid the Isuzu truck. Since respondents failed to refute the contents of the
police blotter, the statement therein that the Isuzu truck hit the private jeepney and not the other
way around is deemed established.

While not constituting direct proof of Ong’s negligence, the foregoing pieces of evidence justify
the application of res ipsa loquitur, a Latin phrase which literally means “the thing or the
transaction speaks for itself.
Requisites for the application of res ipsa loquitur:

(1) The accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s
negligence; - No two motor vehicles traversing opposite lanes will collide as a matter of
course unless someone is negligent
(2) It is caused by an instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant or
defendants - Driving the Isuzu truck gave Ong exclusive management and control over it
(3) The possibility of contributing conduct which would make the plaintiff responsible is
(4) defendant fails to offer any explanation tending to show that the
injury was caused by his or her want of due care

We are convinced that all the above requisites are present in the case at bar.

Related Interests