What Is The Duty to Keep a Lookout In Missouri?
In Missouri, drivers have a duty to keep a vigilant lookout. Countryman v. Seymour R-II Sch. Dist., 823 S.W.2d 515, 517 (Mo. App. S.D. 1992). The essence of the "failure to keep a careful lookout" claim is a failure to see and a failure to act. Hayes v. Price, 313 S.W.3d 645, 650 (Mo. banc 2010) (citing Lovelace v. Reed, 486 S.W.2d 417, 418-19 (Mo. 1972) ).
To establish a case on the theory of failure to keep a lookout, there must be evidence that the defendant saw or could have seen plaintiff in time to have avoided the collision, and circumstantial evidence may make a submissible case on failure to keep a lookout. Countryman, 823 S.W.2d at 517.
An instruction on failure to keep a careful lookout should not be submitted to the jury unless there is "substantial evidence" that the allegedly negligent party kept a careful lookout, and that party could have seen the other vehicle in time to have taken "effective precautionary action." Rouse v. Cuvelier, 363 S.W.3d 406, 412 (Mo. App. W.D. 2012).
There are two questions a jury must determine:
1.) If the driver was keeping a careful lookout, could the driver have seen the danger? and
2.) If the driver could have seen the danger, did the driver have the ability to take some precautionary measure such as veering, honking the horn, or slowing down to prevent the accident? Hayes, 313 S.W.3d at 650.
The driver is held to have seen what looking would have revealed, and failure to do so is negligence as much as if he had not looked at all. Id.
Savage v. Dittrich, 589 S.W.3d 628 (Mo. App. 2019).