CACI No. 414. Amount of Caution Required in Dangerous Situations

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2024 edition)

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414.Amount of Caution Required in Dangerous Situations
People must be extremely careful when they deal with dangerous items
or participate in dangerous activities. [Insert type of dangerous item or
activity] is dangerous in and of itself. The risk of harm is so great that
the failure to use extreme caution is negligence.
New September 2003; Revised May 2020
Directions for Use
An instruction on the standard of care for extremely dangerous activities is proper
only “in situations where the nature of the activity or substance is so inherently
dangerous or complex, as such, that the hazard persists despite the exercise of
ordinary care.” (Benwell v. Dean (1964) 227 Cal.App.2d 226, 233 [38 Cal.Rptr.
542]; see also Menchaca v. Helms Bakeries, Inc. (1968) 68 Cal.2d 535, 544 [67
Cal.Rptr. 775, 439 P.2d 903].)
This instruction should not be given at the same time as an instruction pertaining to
standard of care for employees who have to work in dangerous situations. In
appropriate cases, juries may be instructed that a person of ordinary prudence is
required to exercise extreme caution when engaged in a dangerous activity.
(Borenkraut v. Whitten (1961) 56 Cal.2d 538, 544-546 [15 Cal.Rptr. 635, 364 P.2d
467].) However, this rule does not apply when a person’s lawful employment
requires that person to work in a dangerous situation. (McDonald v. City of Oakland
(1967) 255 Cal.App.2d 816, 827 [63 Cal.Rptr. 593].) This is because “reasonable
[employees] who are paid to give at least part of their attention to their job” may
not be as able to maintain the same standards for personal safety as nonemployees.
(Young v. Aro Corp. (1974) 36 Cal.App.3d 240, 245 [111 Cal.Rptr. 535].) (See
CACI No. 415, Employee Required to Work in Dangerous Situations.)
Sources and Authority
Even a slight deviation from the standards of care will constitute negligence in
cases involving dangerous instrumentalities. (Borenkraut, supra, 56 Cal.2d at p.
Dangerous instrumentalities include fire, firearms, explosive or highly
inflammable materials, and corrosive or otherwise dangerous or noxious fluids.
(Warner v. Santa Catalina Island Co. (1955) 44 Cal.2d 310, 317 [282 P.2d 12].)
In Menchaca, the Court held that “[d]riving a motor vehicle may be sufficiently
dangerous to warrant special instructions, but it is not so hazardous that it
always requires ‘extreme caution.’ (Menchaca, supra, 68 Cal.2d at p. 544.)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 1050-1054
1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 1, Negligence, §§ 1.02, 1.30 (Matthew Bender)
California Products Liability Actions, Ch. 2, Liability for Defective Products, § 2.14
(Matthew Bender)
33 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 380, Negligence (Matthew
16 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 165, Negligence (Matthew Bender)

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