Jean Gagnon was concentrating on the country road while Yves, his 7-year old, was sitting in the passenger’s seat beside him.
He stole a glance at his son, who looked perturbed.
“Yves, something on your mind? Anything happen today at school?”
Instead of answering, Yves continued staring ahead with bewilderment shining through his eyes.
“Daddy, what’s that?” he asked.
Jean followed his son’s gaze and saw a wire hanging from the hydro pole. It was shooting sparks in every direction.
“Is that fireworks?” quizzed Yves.
“No,” replied his father. “It’s dangerous and we’re going to get some help.”
“At least it’s far off the ground,” Jean thought to himself as they drove past the cable. “No chance of anyone getting electrocuted.”
They stopped at the first gas station and phoned the Hydro company.
After a few soft drinks, father and son got into the car and began driving back.
As they approached the site of the fallen wire, they noticed it had fallen even further.
“Papa, papa, look,” cried Yves. “Look how close it is to the ground!”
Indeed, Jean saw the wire hanging so close to the ground that even a small child could reach up and touch it.
Jean immediately stopped the car. “This is dangerous,” he said to no one in particular. “Somebody could get really hurt before the Hydro company gets here.”
He ran to the wire, and tried to wrap a plastic bag around the end.
But just as he thought he had done the job, Jean accidentally touched the live wire. With his son watching in disbelief, Jean’s body rocked as the current passed through his body. He was unable to even utter a scream. He fell to the ground seriously injured.
He sued the hydro company for his injuries.
In the courtroom
“Your honour,” cried Jean, still in a wheelchair. “The hydro company is completely at fault here. They HAVE to keep their cables in safe condition. They didn’t! I just did what I needed to protect the public. It’s their fault I was injured and they should pay!”
“We can’t be responsible for idiots, your honour,” responded the Hydro company. “Jean was old enough to know how dangerous electricity can be. The reason Jean was injured was not because the cable fell, but because he was careless in trying to fix the problem himself.”
Should the Hydro company compensate Jean for his injuries? You! Be the Judge. Then look below for the court’s decision.
“You’re not going to get a penny, Jean,” announced the judge. “You obviously knew this was a dangerous situation since you called the hydro company to warn them. Perhaps my decision would be different if there was an immediate danger to other people, but that wasn’t the case here. Only your imprudence caused your injuries, so don’t blame it on anyone else.”
Today’s column is based on a case from Quebec. If you have a similar problem, please contact (sponsor) or another lawyer in your state. We are proud to bring you some of the current legal issues from across the country for discussion and debate. To provide compelling entertainment, we have fictionalized the names, the characters and the scenarios in the case. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. In the interest of clarity and brevity, the legal issues in the case have been greatly reduced and simplified. Elissa Bernstein is a lawyer and nationally syndicated columnist. Copyright 2017 Haika Enterprises. B32-4