It is the duty of one operating a motor vehicle on the public highways to see that it is in reasonably good condition and properly equipped, so that it may be at all times controlled, and not become a source of danger to its occupants or to other travelers. To this end, the owner or operator of a motor vehicle must exercise reasonable care in the inspection of the machine and is chargeable with notice of everything that such inspection would disclose. Where such an examination is made and fails to disclose the defects, the owner is relieved from responsibility.
A driver filed an action based on trespass for damages incurred when another driver's tire blew out and caused a collision with his vehicle. The jury found for plaintiff and held that the defendant was negligent in driving with defective tires. The court, however, granted defendant's motion for new trial on the ground that the verdict was excessive. Nevertheless, it denied defendant's motion for judgment non obstante veridicto (n.o.v.). The case was elevated on appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Is a negligent driver liable for damages?
The court affirmed the trial court, holding that defendant had a duty to see that his vehicle was in reasonably good condition so as not to involve an unreasonable risk to others. There was testimony at trial that defendant's tire was obviously worn which an inspection would have uncovered. Therefore, viewing the testimony in the light most favorable to plaintiff, defendant operated his vehicle in a condition that involved an unreasonable risk to others, and was therefore not entitled to a judgment n.o.v.