Stevens v. Veenstra

226 Mich. App. 441, 573 N.W.2d 341 (1997)



Generally, in the context of negligence actions, the capability of minors, seven years of age or older, is not determined on the basis of an adult standard of conduct, but rather is determined on the basis of how a minor of similar age, mental capacity, and experience would conduct himself. However, Michigan has a longstanding policy of holding all drivers, even minors, to an adult standard of care. A minor who engages in an adult activity that is dangerous, e.g., driving an automobile, is charged with the same standard of conduct as an adult.


On the first day of the minor's driver's education course, he turned too sharply and struck the injured party. Both the minor and his driving instructor attempted to turn the automobile away, but were unsuccessful. The injured party filed suit against the school system based on injuries received. At trial, the trial court instructed the jury that a minor had a different standard of care than an adult. 


Is the same standard of care applied to minors when they participate in dangerous adult activities?




The requirements under Mich. Comp. Laws § 257.811(6) (Mich. Stat. Ann. § 9.2511(6)) that a minor pass a driver's education course in order to obtain a license, did not mean that the minor was not engaged in an adult activity and should not have been held to an adult standard of conduct. The minor was engaged in the adult activity of driving an automobile, and the court did not consider the reasons behind his undertaking the activity to justify departure from the general rule that all drivers be held to an adult standard of care.

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