1 minute read

Last Clear Chance

Helpless Plaintiffs, Inattentive Plaintiffs, Observant Defendant, Application Of DoctrineInattentive Defendant

In the law of TORTS, the doctrine that excuses or negates the effect of the plaintiff's contributory NEGLIGENCE and permits him or her to recover, in particular instances, damages regardless of his or her own lack of ordinary care.

The rule of last clear chance operates when the plaintiff negligently enters into an area of danger from which the person cannot extricate himself or herself. The defendant has the final opportunity to prevent the harm that the plaintiff otherwise will suffer. The doctrine was formulated to relieve the severity of the application of the contributory negligence rule against the plaintiff, which completely bars any recovery if the person was at all negligent.

There are as many variations and adaptations of this doctrine as there are jurisdictions that apply it. Four different categories have emerged, which are classified as helpless plaintiffs, inattentive plaintiffs, observant defendants, and inattentive defendants.

Inattentive Defendant

The inattentive defendant is one who fails to fulfill the duty to maintain a surveillance in order to see the plaintiff in time to avoid the harm, perceive the person's helpless or inattentive condition, and thereby exercise reasonable care to act in time to avoid the harm. Due to the defendant's negligence, however, he or she fails to see the plaintiff in time, and injury occurs.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Labor Department - Employment And Training Administration to Legislative Power