Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, 19-years old, was struck and killed by Defendant’s car. Plaintiff’s estate sued Defendant for negligence. The issue on appeal was Plaintiff’s standard of care in Defendants’ claim of contributory negligence.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When minor plaintiff undertakes an adult activity, which can result in grave danger to others, the standard of care is measured by what a reasonable and prudent adult would use.
The Supreme Court of Delaware in Wagner v. Shanks stated that their statute, which permits the licensing of minors, does not provide two standards of care for the licensing of minors and adults.View Full Point of Law
Issue. When Plaintiff undertakes an adult activity, which can result in grave danger to others, is the standard of care that which the reasonable and prudent adult would use?
Held. Yes. Judgment for Defendant.
* When children are walking, running, playing with toys, throwing balls, operating bicycles, sliding or engaged in other childhood activities, their conduct should be judged by the rule of what is reasonable conduct of a child with comparable age, experience, and stage of mental development.
* It would be unfair to the public to permit a minor in the operation of a motor vehicle to observe any other standard of care than that expected of all others. In today’s modern life, where vehicles are powered by motors, to apply to minors a more lenient standard in the operation of motor vehicles is unrealistic, contrary to legislative policy, and inimical to public safety.
Discussion. Any minor operating a motor vehicle must be judged with the same standard of care as an adult. At the time this case was heard, a minor was someone who was under the age of twenty-one.