Minors are entitled to be judged by standards commensurate with their age, experience, and wisdom when engaged in activities appropriate to their age.
The decedent, who was 19 years of age, was killed when a motorcycle he was driving collided with the driver's automobile. At trial, as to the standard of care to be applied to the decedent's conduct, the trial court, over the driver's objection, instructed the jury that, because the decedent was under the age of 21 at the time of the accident, he was considered a minor and was not to be held to the same degree of care as an adult; instead, he was required to exercise the care of the average child of his age, experience, and stage of mental development. After the jury returned a verdict in favor of the administrator, the driver appealed. The court sustained the driver's exception to the trial court's judgment.
Should the standard of care applied to minors prevail when the minor is engaged in activities normally undertaken by adults?
The court held the driver's objection to the trial court's instruction was valid because a minor operating a motor vehicle, whether an automobile or a motorcycle, was to be judged by the same standard of care as an adult. To apply to minors a more lenient standard in the operation of motor vehicles, whether an automobile or a motorcycle, than that applied to adults is unrealistic, contrary to the expressed legislative policy, and inimical to public safety.