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Lookout Cases Summarized By Accident Attorney

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Lookout. For more information on traffic accidents see the pages on Wikipedia.


2006 Burroughs v. Keffer, 272 Va. 162, 630 S.E.2d 297.

Driver of a car collided with rear of flat bed truck parked in one lane of undivided highway. Plaintiff claims that she was temporarily blinded while she was rounding a curve and rear-ended the trailer. It was error for trial court to rule that this was contributory negligence as a matter of law.

1989 West v. Critzer, 238 Va. 356, 383 S.E.2d 726.

Proper lookout requires operator to heed what he sees by taking reasonably prudent action to avoid what lookout discloses. Defendant in this case saw plaintiff’s vehicle moving slowly into his path and he never braked, blew horn, slowed, or swerved. Jury issue exists as to proper lookout.

1988 Reams v. John Doe, 236 Va. 237, 372 S.E.2d 405.

Parking lot accident. Duty of lookout is duty to look with reasonable care, not absolute duty to see.

1988 Karim v. Grover, 235 Va. 550, 369 S.E.2d 185.

Plaintiff saw defendant 200 feet away. Factfinder reasonably could conclude that defendant saw or should have seen plaintiff from same distance.

1984 Virginia & Md. Ry. v. White, 228 Va. 140, 319 S.E.2d 755.

Decedent approached railroad crossing on dark, overcast night. He knew crossing was equipped with automatic warning devices and he had right to presume they were working. In fact, they were not operational and dark colored tank car was blocking highway. Jury issue was created as to whether or not he exercised proper lookout.

1984 Hoffner v. Kreh, 227 Va. 48, 313 S.E.2d 656.

Pedestrian struck on roadway while he apparently was lying on roadway. Case was submitted to jury on question of defendant’s failure to maintain proper lookout. Burden was on plaintiff to show that he was in road in time for driver in exercise of ordinary care to see and avoid him. Plaintiff failed to meet that burden, and, as such, there was no jury issue as to lookout.

1983 Geico v. Gallop, 224 Va. 720, 299 S.E.2d 525.

Summary judgment was reversed where there was conflicting evidence on speed of defendant’s vehicle, on whether defendant kept proper lookout, and on role of John Doe defendant in accident.

1982 Farren v. Gilbert, 224 Va. 407, 297 S.E.2d 668.

Prima facie case of primary negligence not shown where decedent was either struck or fell under delivery truck that was being backed into parking lot. Question of whether driver had duty to post helper as lookout not decided.

1982 Swisher v. Swisher, 223 Va. 499, 290 S.E.2d 856.

Defendant had duty to keep proper lookout regardless of which vehicle had right-of-way.

1982 Todt v. Shaw, 223 Va. 123, 286 S.E.2d 211.

Jury could have concluded from evidence that defendant did not have her vehicle under proper control when she rear-ended plaintiff’s vehicle and did not maintain proper lookout. Fact that plaintiff did not look in rear-view mirror prior to making left turn held not contributory negligence where she slowed down and gave proper turn signal.

1981 Butler v. Yates, 222 Va. 550, 281 S.E.2d 905.

Driver with right-of-way must keep reasonable lookout for other vehicles. Plaintiff held not contributorily negligent as matter of law where there was no evidence that he was aware or should have been aware that defendant would cross intersection. Plaintiff had no obligation to continuously watch for vehicles that might dart in front of him.

1981 Mackey v. Miller, 221 Va. 715, 273 S.E.2d 550.

Airplane collision. Pilot’s duty to maintain lookout is directly related to his ability to see other aircraft.

1980 Coleman v. Blankenship Oil Corp., 221 Va. 124, 267 S.E.2d 143.

Oil spilled on road. Jury issue as to whether plaintiff exercised ordinary care in lookout.

1980 Kay Mgt. Co. v. Creason, 220 Va. 820, 263 S.E.2d 394.

Plaintiff struck while crossing street. Plaintiff not negligent as matter of law for failure to keep proper lookout since there was evidence that driver took unexpected turn, increased speed quickly and plaintiff had insufficient time to avoid accident.

1979 Petress v. Seay, 219 Va. 1053, 254 S.E.2d 91.

Plaintiff’s decedent could be found by jury to have been contributorily negligent & failure to see defendant’s vehicle in time to avoid accident.

1978 Carolina Coach Co. v. Starchia, 219 Va. 135, 244 S.E.2d 788.

Auto rear-ended by defendant when it pulled onto highway at low speed. Proper lookout of defendant is jury question.

1978 Norfolk & W. Ry. v. Greenfield, 219 Va. 122, 244 S.E.2d 781.

Plaintiff’s decedent at railway crossing had duty to look and listen with reasonable care. Had no duty to discover train unless by so looking and listening, he was bound to have discovered it. Contributory negligence established as matter of law.

1977 Underwood v. City of Radford, 217 Va. 891, 234 S.E.2d 253.

Stop sign run by defendant while truck driven by plaintiff was dangerously near, on intersecting street, and in plain view. Negligence of defendant established as matter of law.

1977 Nicholaou v. Harrington, 217 Va. 618, 231 S.E.2d 318.

Error to instruct jury that if defendant’s view was blocked at moment he looked, he was not negligent as matter of law. Question was whether defendant’s failure to see or to anticipate presence of plaintiff, to look longer or more often, or to wait for turning car to complete its turn before he entered highway was reasonable.

1976 Bunn v. Norfolk, F. & D. Ry., 217 Va. 45, 225 S.E.2d 375.

Railroad grade crossing accident; decedent’s vehicle struck. Plaintiff’s decedent guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law. Had decedent, who was not stranger to area, been keeping proper lookout, he would have had ample time and distance in which to stop.

1975 Brown v. Wright, 216 Va. 10, 216 S.E.2d 13.

Failure to look in rear view mirror prior to stopping does create jury issue as to contributory negligence where plaintiff had previously seen defendant behind her.

1975 Straughan v. Nash, 215 Va. 627, 212 S.E.2d 280.

Plaintiff’s decedent guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law for attempting to walk across highway in front of oncoming traffic. Plaintiff had duty to look and heed traffic dangerously close and in plain view.

1975 Cubbage v. Meadows, 215 Va. 502, 211 S.E.2d 262.

Defendant stopped at stop sign as required by law and thereafter had duty to keep proper lookout. Fact that plaintiff had right of way did not relieve him of duty of exercising reasonable care.

1974 Reagan v. Reagan, 215 Va. 222, 207 S.E.2d 888.

Guest action; defendant driver held by jury to be guilty of gross negligence. Jury could reasonably have inferred that defendant drove car across heavily traveled, multi-laned, divided highway with 40 mph limit without keeping proper lookout or failing to heed what lookout disclosed.

1973 Mitchell v. Lee, 213 Va. 629, 194 S.E.2d 737.

Plaintiff’s failure to see “Men Working” sign indicated she was not keeping proper lookout, her speed was unlawful, and she did not keep her car under proper control. Guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law.

1973 Shelley v. West, 213 Va. 611, 194 S.E.2d 899.

Driver is under absolute duty to see oncoming traffic that is in plain view.

1971 Simmers v. DePoy, 212 Va. 447, 184 S.E.2d 776.

Defendant following co-defendant, did not see plaintiff pedestrian until too late. Jury question presented as to lookout.

1971 Doe v. Wolfe, 212 Va. 130, 183 S.E.2d 166.

Plaintiff had visibility of half mile as he approached scene of accident yet he did not see oncoming vehicle until it was 20 feet away. Jury issue as to contributory negligence.

1971 Lendvay v. Sobrito, 211 Va. 548, 178 S.E.2d 532.

Defendant struck plaintiff in rear. Defendant admitted that he did not see plaintiff until moment before impact. This conclusively established that he failed to use ordinary care in keeping proper lookout.

1969 Bohon v. Manning, 210 Va. 173, 169 S.E.2d 452.

Intersection accident. Defendant said that he did not see bicycle that plaintiff was riding until time of impact. Jury question of defendant’s negligence presented.

1969 King v. Eccles, 209 Va. 726, 167 S.E.2d 349.

One who has right of way is not relieved of duty of keeping reasonable lookout and otherwise exercising ordinary care to avoid collision.

1969 Hagan v. Hicks, 209 Va. 499, 165 S.E.2d 421.

Decedent ran into tractor-trailer loaded with heavy logs and stopped on highway at night without proper lights and with logs extending six or seven feet beyond rear of truck. Jury question presented as to whether or not decedent negligently failed to keep proper lookout.

1968 Sayre v. Shields, 209 Va. 409, 164 S.E.2d 665.

Plaintiff had right of way, and she testified that she never saw defendant’s taxicab until it struck her car. She offered no excuse for failure to see defendant’s cab and is therefore guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law.

1968 White v. Hunt, 209 Va. 11, 161 S.E.2d 809.

Jury could have found that driver was negligent for not seeing defendant’s vehicle that was in plain view and dangerously close and that was seen by passenger.

1967 Virginia Transit v. Hill, 208 Va. 171, 156 S.E.2d 888.

Defendant stopped at stop sign and then entered intersection. In intersection he stopped for vehicle approaching from right and was then struck by vehicle from left. Defendant not liable.

1966 Maroulis v. Elliott, 207 Va. 503, 151 S.E.2d 339.

Head-on collision that helped to cause multiple rear-enders. If person looks and does not see what reasonably prudent person would have seen under circumstances in time to take necessary precautions to avoid danger, he is as guilty of negligence as if he failed to maintain lookout.

1966 Seawell v. Carmines, 207 Va. 294, 149 S.E.2d 903.

Plaintiff’s decedent struck and killed while attempting to enter highway from private driveway. Although defendant was negligent, plaintiff’s decedent guilty of contributory negligence as matter of law. Decedent could and should have seen defendant’s car approaching in time to halt his vehicle off highway. This failure to keep proper lookout constituted contributory negligence.

1965 Chesapeake & O.R.R. v. Kinzer, 206 Va. 175, 142 S.E.2d 514.

Railroad collision. Issue of whether plaintiff exercised reasonable care for jury.

1963 Carter v. Garmer, 204 Va. 153, 129 S.E.2d 671.

Driver who only looks ahead, oblivious to conditions behind and beside him that could affect his driving, is not keeping proper lookout.

1960 Thompson v. Mann, 201 Va. 528, 111 S.E.2d 792.

Driver approaching intersection is not under absolute duty to see oncoming vehicle unless it is in such plain view that looking with reasonable care he is bound to have seen it. In this case, defendant’s view was obstructed.

1959 Norfolk & W. Ry. v. Hagy, 201 Va. 183, 110 S.E.2d 177.

Plaintiff relied on 11-year-old niece to advise him of approach of train. When plaintiff did actually see train, he failed to properly gauge its approach.

1959 Russell v. Hammond, 200 Va. 600, 106 S.E.2d 626.

Duty to keep lookout requires that driver look in any direction for vehicles, persons, or conditions that could affect his driving. Momentarily looking in rear view mirror immediately prior to accident as reasonable person would have done in circumstances, is not negligence.

1958 Cook v. Shoulder, 200 Va. 281, 105 S.E.2d 860.

Person is presumed to have seen that which he should have seen had his observation been careful and attentive.

1957 Davis v. Scarborough, 199 Va. 100, 97 S.E.2d 731.

Evidence sufficient to indicate that defendant failed to maintain sufficient lookout for disabled vehicles on highway.

1956 Norfolk & W. Ry. v. Fletcher, 198 Va. 397, 94 S.E.2d 251.

If traveler drives blindly upon grade crossing he is guilty of contributory negligence.

1956 Shelton v. Detamore, 198 Va. 220, 93 S.E.2d 271.

Plaintiff guilty of negligence for not keeping adequate lookout where hedges blocked his vision of approaching traffic.

1956 Ashworth v. Baker, 197 Va. 582, 90 S.E.2d 860.

Vehicle in which plaintiff was passenger was struck in intersection. Jury was justified in finding for plaintiff as they could conclude that defendant was guilty of negligence for failing to see other vehicle until immediately before impact.

1955 Spence v. Miller, 197 Va. 477, 90 S.E.2d 131.

Defendant made U-turn in front of plaintiff who did not see him until he was at center line. Plaintiff’s attention was centered on pedestrians crossing street. Contributory negligence as matter of law not shown.

1955 Von Roy v. Whitescarver, 197 Va. 384, 89 S.E.2d 346.

Driver of motor vehicle is under absolute duty to see oncoming vehicle that is in plain view.

1955 Matthews v. Hicks, 197 Va. 112, 87 S.E.2d 629.

One who looks and does not see is as negligent as one who does not look. Tractor-trailer collides with road roller while attempting to pass.

1955 Lane v. Hampton, 197 Va. 46, 87 S.E.2d 803.

Plaintiff’s decedent thrown from vehicle after accident on sharp curve at night; defendant, immediately after first accident, struck and dragged him some distance. No adequate showing that defendant failed to keep proper lookout.

1955 Nehi Bottling Co. v. Lambert, 196 Va. 949, 86 S.E.2d 156.

Driver is under obligation to look and see that which is in plain view. Plaintiff had unobstructed view for 150 feet. Defendant not speeding and accident occurred in lane which plaintiff entered from parking lot. Contributory negligence as matter of law.

1955 Southern Ry. v. Wilson, 196 Va. 883, 86 S.E.2d 53.

Plaintiff is guilty of negligence as matter of law where he had unobstructed view of oncoming train yet failed to see it. Duty to look ahead and listen before crossing railroad track must be discharged in way to make looking and listening reasonably effectual.

1955 Perry v. Thompson, 196 Va. 817, 86 S.E.2d 35.

Driver of motor vehicle approaching intersection is under duty to see another vehicle in plain view.

1955 Chesapeake & O. Ry. v. Hanes, 196 Va. 806, 86 S.E.2d 122.

Plaintiff guilty of contributory negligence for failing to see approaching train.

1954 Hobbs v. Thorns, 195 Va. 639, 79 S.E.2d 854.

Collision at intersection at dusk; defendant driving with only parking lights on. Plaintiff admitted that he did not see defendant’s car until collision was imminent; however, this was not contributory negligence as matter of law. Plaintiff only required to exercise ordinary care to keep reasonable lookout as he approached and entered intersection.

1954 Dodd v. Coakley, 195 Va. 554, 79 S.E.2d 648.

Jury issue presented as to whether driver with stop sign exercised proper lookout prior to entering intersection.

1953 Wolfe v. Lockhart, 195 Va. 479, 78 S.E.2d 654.

Defendant struck disabled vehicle on roadway. Defendant guilty of negligence for speeding and improper lookout.

1952 City Cabs, Inc. v. Griffith, 194 Va. 818, 75 S.E.2d 487.

Where evidence indicates that plaintiff had clear view to right for 370 feet and plaintiff claims he looked to right, but did not see defendant until 60 feet away and there is no clear evidence of defendant traveling at excessive rate of speed, then plaintiff is guilty of negligence as matter of law.

1952 Virginia Transit Co. v. Tidd, 194 Va. 418, 73 S.E.2d 405.

Jury issue presented as to whether common carrier exercised proper lookout in entering intersection when police car was approaching giving audible signal.

1952 Painter v. Lingon, 193 Va. 840, 71 S.E.2d 355.

Plaintiff injured when defendant’s car, attempting to pass, struck car plaintiff was riding in traveling in opposite direction. Evidence showed defendant guilty of negligence in that defendant failed to maintain proper lookout.

1952 Savage Truck Line v. Traylor, 193 Va. 579, 69 S.E.2d 478.

Driver saw lights ahead and should have been alerted to possibility of vehicle stopped on roadway.

1951 Southern Ry. v. Callis, 193 Va. 28, 67 S.E.2d 879.

Train strikes pedestrian. Traveller must exercise care to make act of looking and listening reasonably effective.

1951 Leo Butler Co. v. Wilbun, 192 Va. 263, 64 S.E.2d 738.

What is proper lookout is question that can only be answered by facts of each particular case. Duty to look with reasonable care is not absolute duty to discover by looking unless thing to be looked for is in such plain view that by looking it is bound to be discovered.

1950 Sink v. Masterson, 191 Va. 618, 61 S.E.2d 863.

Plaintiff’s car struck by defendant’s truck as plaintiff was making left turn in front of truck into private driveway. There was evidence that defendant may have failed to keep proper lookout and maintain proper control. Jury question presented.

1950 Manhattan For Hire Car Corp. v. Williams, 191 Va. 489, 62 S.E.2d 10.

Plaintiff pedestrian was struck by defendant’s taxicab while he was attempting to walk diagonally across intersection at night. If plaintiff was in plain view of taxicab driver, then taxicab was in plain view of plaintiff, and if neither saw other, then both were guilty of negligence.

1950 Caldwell v. Parker, 191 Va. 471, 62 S.E.2d 34.

Plaintiff’s vehicle struck by another greatly exceeding speed limit at busy intersection. Plaintiff obligated to exercise ordinary care. However, it was not incumbent upon him to ensure his safe passage into and along highway from dangers of speeding car that may well have been beyond range of reasonable vision.

1950 Fein v. Wade, 191 Va. 203, 61 S.E.2d 29.

Pedestrian walking on roadway failed to maintain proper lookout for his own safety.

1950 Oliver v. Forsyth, 190 Va. 710, 58 S.E.2d 49.

There is no absolute duty to see unless thing to be seen is in such plain view that by looking with reasonable care was bound to have discovered it.

1949 Virginia Transit Co. v. Owens, 190 Va. 76, 55 S.E.2d 422.

Pedestrian failed to maintain proper lookout in crossing railroad tracks.

1949 Anderson v. Payne, 189 Va. 712, 54 S.E.2d 82.

Defendant did not see plaintiff on side of road until he was on top of her. Vision obstructed since windshield not clear and general visibility poor. This constituted negligence.

1949 Rhoades v. Meadows, 189 Va. 558, 54 S.E.2d 123.

Bus driver saw defendant when 900 feet away but defendant did not see bus until 100 feet away. Defendant not maintaining proper lookout.

1949 Via v. Badanes, 189 Va. 44, 52 S.E.2d 174.

Duty to keep lookout requires not only physical act of looking, but reasonably prudent action to avoid danger which effective lookout would disclose. Defendant admitted he did not see oncoming vehicle which was there to be seen.

1948 Moore v. Virginia Transit Co., 188 Va. 493, 50 S.E.2d 268.

Traveling public has right to assume main street is free of defects and obstruction and there is no duty to be on lookout for either.

1948 Hooper v. Hancock, 188 Va. 345, 49 S.E.2d 711.

Pedestrian struck. Evidence presented jury question as to whether defendant maintained proper lookout.

1947 Southern Ry. v. Thompson, 186 Va. 106, 41 S.E.2d 456.

If motorist drives blindly across railroad crossing, then recovery will be barred.

1946 Nelson v. Dayton, 184 Va. 754, 36 S.E.2d 535.

Defendant had ample opportunity to see plaintiff and to avoid pedestrian but failed to do so and thus failed to exercise proper lookout.

1945 Brown v. Wallace, 184 Va. 570, 35 S.E.2d 793.

While one approaching intersection may assume that other approaching cars will be operated safely, he must still maintain reasonable lookout.

1945 Piccolo v. Woodford, 184 Va. 432, 35 S.E.2d 393.

Driver failed to see child on bike approaching from left. Jury issue as to lookout.

1945 Norfolk Belt Line v. Jones, 183 Va. 536, 32 S.E.2d 720.

It is lookout’s duty to look at such time as looking may be effective.

1943 Stillman v. Williams, 181 Va. 863, 27 S.E.2d 186.

Testimony that person looked twice and did not see approaching car in plain sight is incredible.

1943 Williams v. Greene, 181 Va. 707, 26 S.E.2d 89.

Plaintiff testified that he had plenty of time to stop but he chose not to. Accident resulted from his not stopping. Negligence as matter of law.

1943 Moore v. Vick, 181 Va. 157, 24 S.E.2d 429.

Where defendant states that he had clear view of highway on which plaintiff is approaching for 150 yards, then it is inconceivable why defendant did not see approaching vehicle and only conclusion to be drawn is that he failed to look.

1942 Russell v. Kelly, 180 Va. 304, 23 S.E.2d 124.

When situation is open and obvious, one will not be heard to say that he looked but did not see.

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Lookout Cases Summarized By Accident Attorney

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