CACI No. 711. The Passenger’s Duty of Care for Own Safety

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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711.The Passengers 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 the passenger’s own safety.
New September 2003; Revised May 2020
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 passengers “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
2 California Civil Practice: Torts § 25:29 (Thomson Reuters)

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