Diligence of a Good Father of a Family

Some terms are used in our Civil Code that some might find inappropriate today. Although, in the past these terms might have been widely accepted an used. In our age of “political correctness” a simple term or even a word can invite objections from sectors in our society no matter how “trivial” they may be to others. The term “diligence of a good father of a family” is found among the provisions of the Civil Code but it is very easy to point out the problem with this term. Why is the mother left out? Should it be “diligence of a good parent of a family” instead? This term is used to define the diligence required in several kinds of obligations and the discussion of an actual case can give the context of this concept.

OMC Carriers vs. Nabua Spouses

This is a simple case of vehicular accident involving the tanker of OMC and the vehicle driven by the child of spouses Nabua. While making a turn, said tanker driven by Aalucas hit the right side of the vehicle driven by the 18 year old victim. He was mortally wounded by reason of the collision resulting in his death. The Nabuas, filed a case with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for damages. After trial, the court found OMC and Aalucas liable for damages. Both respondents appealed the decision before the Court of Appeals which eventually affirmed the RTC decision. OMC and Aalucas then field a petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court questioning the decision on the ground that OMC exercised due diligence in hiring Aalucas.

Damages are Reduced

The Supreme Court partially granted the petition for Certiorari and reduced the amount of the damages awarded to the spouses. The Supreme Court determined that the proximate cause of the death of the victim was the negligence of the driver Aalucas. The Supreme Court did not find any reason to disturb the findings of the lower courts. On the defense that OMC exercised due diligence in hiring their driver, the Court said that OMC “failed to overturn the presumption of negligence on the part of the employer” (G.R. 148974, July 2, 2010).Article 2180 of the Civil Code provides: “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. xxx The responsibility treated in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.” It is then the burden of the employer to prove that it exercised due diligence. In this case, the Court is not convinced.

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