Torts I, Pages 215–217

Pokora v. Wabash Ry. Co.

Supreme Court of the United States, 1934


Plaintiff was driving towards defendant's railroad tracks. Boxcars sitting on the first track were blocking his view of the rest, so he stopped and tried to see if a train was coming. He couldn't see or hear anything coming, so he proceeded, at which time he was struck by a train traveling 30 MPH.

Procedural History:

The trial court directed verdict for defendant on the grounds that he was contributorily negligent. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this.


Is one required to get out of his vehicle to look around an obscured corner if he cannot see it from within his vehicle?

Defendant's Argument:

Plaintiff had a duty to get out of his vehicle and check if a train was coming.


  • Standards of prudent conduct are declared at time by courts, but they are taken over from the facts of life.

  • Extraordinary situations may not be subjected to tests or regulations that are fitting for the commonplace or normal.


It would be very uncommon to get out and look for the train on foot, and cannot be reasonably expected. Even if plaintiff got out to look, a train may have arrived before he could get back in his vehicle or a boxcar could move into his vehicle sitting on the tracks or he could be hit himself. It is not


No, one is not required to get out and look for oncoming vehicles on foot. Reversed and remanded.