Roberts v. Ring

137 N.W. 437 (Minn. 1919)


Plaintiff brought an action on behalf of his 7-year-old son to recover damages for an injury resulting from a collision with defendant’s automobile.  Defendant, who was 77-years old and had impaired vision and hearing, was driving about 5 MPH down a crowded street when plaintiff’s son ran in front of defendant’s car and was struck and run over.

Procedural History

The jury found for defendant.


1.  Did defendant’s infirmities entitle him to be judged under a different standard of care?

2.  What is the standard of care for a child in determining contributory negligence?

Holding / Rule

1.  No.  When a person causes injury to others, his negligence is to be judged by the standard of care usually exercised by the “ordinarily prudent normal man.”

2.  The standard of care in self-protection for a child is the degree of care commonly exercised by an ordinary child of the same age and maturity.


A child should not be held to the same standard of care for self-protection as an adult.  However, a child who causes injury to another cannot take advantage of his age or infirmities.  Nor should a defendant’s infirmities tend to relieve him of a negligence charge—if anything, they should weigh against him.  Here, defendant’s impaired senses only gave him a reason to avoid operating an automobile on a crowded street.

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