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Re: Pedestrians aren't the only ones who matter.

Posted by BusMgr on Tue Jan 3 11:45:21 2017, in response to Re: Pedestrians aren't the only ones who matter., posted by BrooklynBus on Mon Jan 2 11:08:16 2017.

Although people may not, in common usage, refer to something correctly, that does not change the true meaning of the term.

It is true that relative automotive safety has improved, and the number of annual motor vehicle fatalities declined in recent years from about 40,000 to about 35,000. But an improvement in safety alone does not change the characteristic of the thing from inherently dangerous to safe.

The term "inherently dangerous" has been defined as follows. "Danger inhering is instrumentality or condition itself at all times, so as to require special precautions to prevent injury, not danger arising from mere casual or collateral negligence of others with respect thereto under particular circumstances. Brown v. City of Craig, 350 Mo. 836, 168 S.W.2d 1080, 1082. An object which has in itself the potential for causing harm or destruction, against which precautions must be taken. Dangerous per se, with requiring human intervention to produce harmful effects; e.g., explosives. Product is 'inherently dangerous' where danger of an injury arises from product itself, and not from defect in product. General Bronze Corp. v. Kostopulos, 203 Va. 66, 122 S.E.2d 548, 551. Work is 'inherently dangerous' when in ordinary course of event ts performance would probably, and not merely possibly, cause injury if proper precautions are not taken. Paladis v. U.S., D.C. Fla., 564 F. Supp. 1397, 1401."

In the context of automobiles, one court described stated: "Driving an automobile is an inherently dangerous act which potentially endangers the public." Florida v. W.W., 16 So. 3d 305 (Fla. App., 2009) (Cohen, J. dissenting). Admittedly, I may be taking a shortcut in describing the automobile itself as being inherently dangerous, rather than more fully stating that it is the act of driving an automobile that is inherently dangerous ("There is nothing inherently dangerous about an automobile any more than about an axe. Both are harmless so long as no one attempts to use them, and both are likely to injure those who come in contact with them when they are used for the purpose for which they were intended." Danforth v. Fisher, 75 N.H. 111, 71 A. 535 (N.H., 1908)). There are other cases that do hold otherwise, but ultimately what I think is the key aspect is the reason that we label something as inherently dangerous: to hold its owner or user strictly liable, and to not unfairly impose the impose onto society the risks of ownership or usage of such things.


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