Case Brief Wiki


The City of Brampton owned a disused gravel pit which it planned to develop as a park. The pit was used, to the knowledge of the city officials, by trail bike riders, and no attempt was made to exclude them. McErlean, a boy of nearly 15, was injured while racing on his trail bike when he collided with another bike rider (Sarel) at a curve in a road in the gravel pit. Sarel was on the wrong side of the road. The curve was sharp, but capable of being negotiated at speeds of 50mph. The curve, and the limitations of visibility at it, were readily apparent. McErlean was successful at trial, which the City appealed.


  1. When children engage in “adult activities” should they still be judged under an adjusted standard of care?


Appeal allowed.


The court, in a per curiam decision, held this is an exception to the general rule that children are to be assessed in negligence according to an adjusted standard of care. When a young person engages in an adult activity which is normally insured, then they should not be excused from "ruinous" damages that result simply because they are young - "when the rights of adulthood are granted, the responsibilities of maturity should also accompany them". Parents should recognize this before allowing their children to participate in adult activities. It would be unfair and dangerous to the public to allow children to operate motor vehicles (which can be very dangerous) and be evaluated with respect to a lower standard of care than other drivers.


There must be a single standard of care with respect to “adult activities”, particularly those involving power-driven vehicles.