California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

703. Definition of "Immediate Hazard"

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703.Definition of “Immediate Hazard”
The statute just read to you uses the words “immediate hazard.” An
immediate hazard exists if the approaching vehicle is so near or is
approaching so fast that a reasonably careful person would realize that
there is a danger of collision [or accident].
New September 2003
Directions for Use
This instruction is designed to be given as a supplement to the several Vehicle
Code provisions that contain the term “immediate hazard.” (Veh. Code, §§ 21802
[Approaching intersection entrance], 21803 [Yield right of way], 21804 [Public or
private property], 21805 [Equestrian crossings], 21950 [Crosswalks], 21953 [Tunnel
or overhead crossing], 21954 [Pedestrian outside crosswalk], 22451 [Train signals].)
Sources and Authority
• “It is to be noted that the legislature has not set a hard and fast rule for the
conduct of drivers approaching through highways but has provided the general
rule that such drivers must yield the right of way to others traveling on the
highway who are approaching so closely as to constitute ‘an immediate hazard.’
Our complex traffic problems are such that the circumstances of the traffic on a
through highway as a driver approaches must govern his conduct in determining
whether it is an immediate hazard. Whether a driver acts with due care or
negligently in proceeding across a through highway must as a general rule be
left to the determination of the jury in view of all the circumstances.”
(Wilkinson v. Marcellus (1952) 51 Cal.App.2d 630, 633 [125 P.2d 584].)
• At least one court has held that the term “immediate hazard” should be defined
for the jury if a party so requests. (Hickenbottom v. Jeppesen (1956) 144
Cal.App.2d 115, 121 [300 P.2d 689].) However, any error in failing to define
the term will be considered harmless if other instructions cover that point: “The
words ‘immediate hazard’ seem reasonably clear in the context in which they
appear, both in the statute and in the instruction given; the hazard of a
collision.” (Ibid.)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 879, 880
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) §§ 4.10–4.11
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