Virginia: Car Accidents – a Lawyer’s ATV

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On October 31, 2014, the Virginia Supreme Court in the ATV-crash case of Lasley v. Hylton, No. 132048, found that “a host owes a child social guest a legal duty to exercise reasonable care for the child’s safety.” Id. at *13. “We also conclude that Hylton satisfied this duty when he ensured that Tabitha was being supervised by Moseley [her parent] and had his permission to ride the ATV.” Id.

Lasley delineated: “We hold it if a child’s parent is present and supervising, and knows or should know of open and obvious risks associated with an activity, a host does not breach the duty of reasonable care when he or she allows the child to participate in an activity with the parent’s permission.” Id. Hence the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the Circuit Court’s ruling that “Hylton, as a matter of law, did not have a duty to prevent Tabitha from riding the ATV [by which she was injured severely]”. Id. at *4, 13.

Three Justices concurred with the result of the four-Justice majority opinion: affirmance of dismissal. However, their concurring opinion in Lasley disagreed with the majority opinion reasoning, and criticized its supposedly “inconsistent application and adoption of new legal theories”. Id. at *13-14 and 14-19.