California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

403. Standard of Care for Physically Disabled Person

A person with a physical disability is required to use the amount of care that a reasonably careful person who has the same physical disability would use in the same situation.

New September 2003

Directions for Use

By “same” disability, this instruction is referring to the effect of the disability, not the cause.

Sources and Authority

  • Restatement Second of Torts, section 283C, provides: “If the actor is ill or otherwise physically disabled, the standard of conduct to which he must conform to avoid being negligent is that of a reasonable man under like disability.” (See also Conjorsky v. Murray (1955) 135 Cal.App.2d 478, 482 [287 P.2d 505]; Jones v. Bayley (1942) 49 Cal.App.2d 647, 654 [122 P.2d 293].)
  • Persons with mental illnesses are not covered by the same standard as persons with physical illnesses. (See Bashi v. Wodarz (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1314, 1323 [53 Cal.Rptr.2d 635].)
  • Civil Code section 41 provides: “A person of unsound mind, of whatever degree, is civilly liable for a wrong done by the person, but is not liable in exemplary damages unless at the time of the act the person was capable of knowing that the act was wrongful.” This section applies to negligence. (Bashi, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1321.)
  • Restatement Second of Torts, section 283B, provides: “Unless the actor is a child, his insanity or other mental deficiency does not relieve the actor from liability for conduct which does not conform to the standard of a reasonable man under like circumstances.”
  • As to contributory negligence, the courts agree with the Restatement’s position that mental deficiency that falls short of insanity does not excuse conduct that is otherwise contributory negligence. (Fox v. City and County of San Francisco (1975) 47 Cal.App.3d 164, 169 [120 Cal.Rptr. 779]; Rest.2d Torts, § 464, com. g.)

Secondary Sources

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 1.20

33 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 380, Negligence (Matthew Bender)