Petitioner Villa Rey Transit Inc., due to the negligence of its bus driver, was involved in a vehicular accident resulted to the death of Policronio Quintos, Jr., Private respondents’ brother. The private respondents brought this action against herein petitioner as owner and operator of said passenger bus. The RTC ruled in favor of the Respondents and that the mishap was not the result of any unforeseeable fortuitous event or emergency but was the direct result of the negligence of the driver of the defendant. The defendant must, therefore, respond for damages resulting from its breach of contract for carriage. As the complaint alleged a total damage of only P63,750.00. Aggrieved, petitioner went to the CA to reverse the decision of the RTC. CA affirmed the decision of the RTC, hence this case.
Whether the RTC erred in computing the compensatory damages awarded to the respondents?
Yes, the Court ruled that the CA affirming the award in toto is erroneous, and modified the amount awarded to the respondents. Thus, life expectancy is, not only relevant, but, also, an important element in fixing the amount recoverable by private respondents herein. Although it is not the sole element determinative of said amount, no cogent reason has been given to warrant its disregard and the adoption, in this case, of a purely arbitrary standard, such as a four-year rule. In short, the Court of Appeals has not erred in basing the computation of petitioner’s liability upon the life expectancy of Policronio Quintos, Jr..
It should be noted, also, that the Court are mainly concerned with the determination of the losses or damages sustained by the private respondents, as dependents and intestate heirs of the deceased, and that said damages consist, not of the full amount of his earnings, but of the support, they received or would have received from him had he not died in consequence of the negligence of petitioner’s agent. In fixing the amount of that support, We must reckon with the “necessary expenses of his own living”, which should be deducted from his earnings. Thus, it has been consistently held that earning capacity, as an element of damages to one’s estate for his death by wrongful act is necessarily his net earning capacity or his capacity to acquire money, “less the necessary expense for his own living. Stated otherwise, the amount recoverable is not loss of the entire earning, but rather the loss of that portion of the earnings which the beneficiary would have received. In other words, only net earnings, not gross earning, are to be considered that is, the total of the earnings less expenses necessary in the creation of such earnings or income and less living and other incidental expenses.