California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

711. The Passenger’s Duty of Care for Own Safety

A passenger is not required to be aware of the conditions on the highway and is entitled to expect that a driver will use reasonable care. However, if a passenger becomes aware of [a danger on the highway] [the driver’s impairment or failure to use reasonable care], then the passenger must take reasonable steps to protect his or her safety.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • “ ‘In the absence of some fact brought to his attention which would cause a person of ordinary prudence to act otherwise, a passenger in an automobile has no duty to observe traffic conditions on the highway, and his mere failure to do so, without more, will not support a finding of contributory negligence. In other words, an automobile passenger’s “duty to look” does not arise until some factor of danger comes to his attention, thus charging him as a person of ordinary prudence to take steps for his own safety.. . .’ ” (Casey v. Russell (1982) 138 Cal.App.3d 379, 386–387 [188 Cal.Rptr. 18], internal citations omitted.)
  • “Even when negligence of a driver may not be imputed to him, the passenger is bound to exercise ordinary care for his own safety. He may not shut his eyes to an obvious danger; he may not blindly rely on the driver in approaching a place of danger. He is normally bound to protest against actual negligence or recklessness of the driver, the extent of his duty in this regard depending upon the particular circumstances of each case and ordinarily being a question of fact for the jury.” (Pobor v. Western Pacific Railroad Co. (1961) 55 Cal.2d 314, 324 [11 Cal.Rptr. 106, 359 P.2d 474], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) §§ 4.67–4.71

2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.03[2][c] (Matthew Bender)

2 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 25:29