Graham v. Check

In Graham v. Check, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did its best to settle the question of what evidence must be presented at trial to merit a “sudden emergency” jury instruction.  Here, the defendant was driving and struck the plaintiff, a pedestrian. The sudden emergency doctrine allows for an affirmative defense where an individual will not be held to the “usual degree of care” or be required to exercise his or her “best judgment” when confronted with a sudden and unexpected position of peril created in whole or in part by someone other than the person asserting the defense. But this case also presented a car-on-pedestrian collision,  and the Court noted that “[i]t is the duty of the driver of a motor vehicle at all times to have his car under control, and having one’s car under control means having it under such control that it can be stopped before doing injury to any person in any situation that is reasonably likely to arise under the circumstances.” The Supreme Court cautioned that the doctrine should not be considered a stand-alone defense, but rather only one of a panoply of circumstances the trier of fact must consider. Here, the Court held that the jury instruction was not warranted and remanded for a new trial.

Graham-1

Graham-2