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WPI10.01Negligence—Adult—Definition

Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil

6 Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 10.01 (6th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
Database updated June 2013
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part II. Negligence—Risk—Misconduct—Proximate Cause
Chapter 10. Negligence and Ordinary Care
WPI 10.01 Negligence—Adult—Definition
Negligence is the failure to exercise ordinary care. It is the doing of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances or the failure to do some act that a reasonably careful person would have done under the same or similar circumstances.
NOTE ON USE
Use WPI 10.02, Ordinary Care—Adult—Definition, with this instruction.
COMMENT
This definition is derived from System Tank Lines v. Dixon, 47 Wn.2d 147, 286 P.2d 704 (1955), and the cases cited therein.
The duty that generally applies in negligence cases is the duty to exercise ordinary care. See, e.g., Mathis v. Ammons, 84 Wn.App. 411, 415–16, 928 P.2d 431 (1996). For examples of duties other than ordinary care, see the pattern instructions on gross negligence (WPI 10.07), products liability (WPI Chapter 110), and common carriers (WPI Chapter 100).
Generally the jury should be instructed that the standard of care to be applied in a negligence action is the care that a reasonably careful person would take under the circumstances, rather than the care a particular defendant should have exercised in a given circumstance. See Baughn v. Malone, 33 Wn.App. 592, 656 P.2d 1118 (1983). However, there are specific types of cases in which a defendant may be held to a different standard of conduct, e.g. professional malpractice cases. See WPI Chapter 105 for instructions setting forth such standards for health care professionals. It is error to give WPI 10.01 in combination with a standard of care instruction involving a duty other than ordinary care without explaining the applicability of each instruction to the jury. Such instructions are inconsistent if given in combination and may mislead the jury as to the correct standard of care. See Coyle v. Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, 32 Wn.App. 741, 649 P.2d 652 (1982).
For an example of when an instruction is required on the element of foreseeability as it relates to negligence, see Sage v. Northern Pac. Ry. Co., 62 Wn.2d 6, 380 P.2d 856 (1963).
[Current as of June 2009.]
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