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AMI 304 Ordinary Care of a Minor

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 304
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
December 2023 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 3. Negligence, Fault, and Ordinary Care
AMI 304 Ordinary Care of a Minor
[A minor is not held to the same standard of care as an adult.]
When I use the words “ordinary care” with respect to the minor , I mean that degree of care which a reasonably careful minor of [his][her] age and intelligence would use under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence in this case. It is for you to decide how such a reasonably careful minor would act under those circumstances.
If the minor is charged with negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle, AMI 305 should be used instead of this instruction.
Do not use the first sentence unless AMI 303 is also given.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has approved reference to the following qualities: “age,” “intelligence,” “understanding,” “experience,” “discretion,” “capability,” “capacity.” Those most frequently approved were “age” and “intelligence” and ordinarily they should suffice. See, e.g., Gates v. Plummer, 173 Ark. 27, 291 S.W. 816 (1927).
With reference to a normal adult the measure of ordinary care is standardized, but this is not true when dealing with a minor. The standard of care for a minor is fixed by “the maturity and capacity of the child, and this is to be determined in each case by the circumstances of that case.” Garrison v. St. Louis, I. M. & S. Ry. Co., 92 Ark. 437, 443, 123 S.W. 657, 660 (1909). This case, involving a boy of inferior intelligence, has been cited with approval many times.
On the other hand, a twelve-year-old who operated a “bush hog” was held to the standard of care of a reasonably careful adult. Jackson v. McCuiston, 247 Ark. 862, 448 S.W.2d 33 (1969); Note, 24 Ark. L. Rev. 379 (1970). In dicta, the Supreme Court stated that when a minor is performing or participating in an activity regulated by a regulation or statute which does not differentiate between the standard of care expected of the participant, whether a minor or an adult, then the minor is held to the same standard of care as an adult when involved in the activity. Newman v. Crawford Const. Co., 303 Ark. 641, 799 S.W.2d 531 (1990) (no proof connecting the injury to the minor's operation of a manual freight elevator). Otherwise, in order for a minor to be held to an adult standard of care, he must be engaging in an activity that is dangerous to others and is normally engaged in only by adults. Purtle v. Shelton, 251 Ark. 519, 474 S.W.2d 123 (1971) (adult standard does not apply to a 16-year-old minor hunting with a high-powered rifle).
A minor is required to exercise the same degree of care as an adult in operating a motor vehicle. Harrelson v. Whitehead, 236 Ark. 325, 365 S.W.2d 868 (1963).
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