CACI No. 722. Adult’s Liability for Minor’s Permissive Use of Motor Vehicle

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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722.Adult’s Liability for Minors Permissive Use of Motor Vehicle
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] was harmed
and that [name of defendant] is responsible for the harm because [name of
defendant] gave [name of minor] permission to operate the vehicle. To
establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:
1. That [name of minor] was negligent in operating the vehicle;
2. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed;
3. That [name of minor]’s negligence was a substantial factor in
causing the harm; and
4. That [name of defendant], by words or conduct, gave [name of
minor] permission to use the vehicle.
New September 2003; Revised April 2004, October 2004
Directions for Use
Under Vehicle Code section 17708, an element of this cause of action is that the
defendant must have “custody” of the minor driver. The instruction omits this
element because it will most likely be stipulated to or decided by the judge as a
matter of law. If there are contested issues of fact regarding this element, this
instruction may be augmented to include the specific factual findings necessary to
arrive at a determination of custody.
Sources and Authority
Parental Liability for Minors Vehicle Operation. Vehicle Code section 17708.
“[I]t was incumbent upon [plaintiffs], in order to fasten liability upon [the
parents] for the minors negligence, to establish two necessary facts. These facts
were, first, that at the time the collision occurred respondents had custody of the
minor and, second, that they had given to the minor their permission, either
express or implied, to his driving the automobile by the negligent operation of
which the injuries were caused.” (Sommers v. Van Der Linden (1938) 24
Cal.App.2d 375, 380 [75 P.2d 83].)
“Whether or not a sufficient custody existed, within the meaning of the statute,
might well depend upon evidence of specific facts showing the nature, kind and
extent of the custody and right of control which the respondent [grandfather]
actually had.” (Hughes v. Wardwell (1953) 117 Cal.App.2d 406, 409 [255 P.2d
“In the absence of statute, ordinarily a parent is not liable for the torts of his
minor child. A parent, however, becomes liable for the torts of his minor child if
that child in committing a tort is his agent and acting within the child’s
authority.” (Van Den Eikhof v. Hocker (1978) 87 Cal.App.3d 900, 904-905 [151
Cal.Rptr. 456], internal citations omitted.)
‘[P]erson having custody of the minor means person having permanent legal
custody, and not a person such as a school teacher whose control over his pupils
is limited in time and scope.” (Hathaway v. Siskiyou Union High School Dist.
(1944) 66 Cal.App.2d 103, 114 [151 P.2d 861].)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 1412-1415
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) Automobiles, §§ 4.42-4.43
2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.30[1] (Matthew Bender)
8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 82, Automobiles: Causes of Action,
§ 82.16, Ch. 83, Automobiles: Bringing the Action, § 83.133 (Matthew Bender)
California Civil Practice: Torts § 25:52 (Thomson Reuters)

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