Contributory Negligence of a Minor As a Matter of Law in Missouri


With respect to the degree of care which must be exercised by a child, for purposes of determining whether lie is guilty of negligence or contributory negligence, the general rule is stated that he must conform to that standard of conduct to be expected of a child of similar age, experience and intelligence. While it may be said that the courts of Missouri are generally in accord with this rule, the cases have varied widely in the application thereof. As a matter of fact, it has been admitted by the Supreme Court of Missouri that the Missouri cases involving the issue of contributory negligence of a minor as a matter of law "are in irreconcilable conflict.” With this in mind, the maxim that each case must be decided upon its own facts seems particularly appropriate to the determination of whether a minor has, in a given case, been contributorily negligent as a matter of law. However, to facilitate analysis of the Missouri cases, they should be classified at least according to the general types of factual situations involved therein.

This Article will attempt to make such an analysis, and, to that end, will be based upon a classification involving the following four general categories: (1) Cases involving minors who were injured in rail crossing accidents; (2) Attractive nuisance cases; (3) Cases in which minors were injured as a result of their employment, usually while operating machinery; and (4) Cases where minors and adults were injured while in the attempt to alight from public carriers.


Contributory negligence, Infants



James W. Starnes (Stinson, Mag, Thomson, McEvers & Fizzell)



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