2017 ORS 30.115¹
Aircraft and watercraft guest passengers
  • definitions

No person transported by the owner or operator of an aircraft or a watercraft as a guest without payment for such transportation, shall have a cause of action for damages against the owner or operator for injury, death or loss, in case of accident, unless the accident was intentional on the part of the owner or operator or caused by the gross negligence or intoxication of the owner or operator. As used in this section:

(1) “Payment” means a substantial benefit in a material or business sense conferred upon the owner or operator of the conveyance and which is a substantial motivating factor for the transportation, and it does not include a mere gratuity or social amenity.

(2) “Gross negligence” refers to negligence which is materially greater than the mere absence of reasonable care under the circumstances, and which is characterized by conscious indifference to or reckless disregard of the rights of others. [1961 c.578 §2 (30.115 (Aircraft and watercraft guest passengers) enacted in lieu of 30.110 and 30.120); 1979 c.866 §7]

Notes of Decisions

In General

Evidence of driver’s drinking substantial amount of beer, known to the guest, and nothing more, will support submission of contributory negligence to jury. Trotter v. McKellip, 265 Or 334, 509 P2d 31 (1973)

“Reckless disregard” means act or failure to act that creates obvious danger with high probability of serious physical harm. Sherman v. McAllister, 265 Or 630, 509 P2d 1176 (1973)

It is unnecessary for plaintiff to show that defendant was intoxicated in order to obtain an instruc­tion which informs the jury that it may consider defendant’s prior drinking for whatever effect it might have had on the issues of lookout and control. Gatten v. Widman, 269 Or 112, 523 P2d 1007 (1974)

This sec­tion does not deny injured passengers equal protec­tion of the law. Duerst v. Limbocker, 269 Or 252, 525 P2d 99 (1974); Reinholtz v. Ressler, 269 Or 249, 525 P2d 55 (1974); Salmon v. Miller, 269 Or 267, 525 P2d 104 (1974)

A plaintiff guest should be entitled to plead either or both intoxica­tion or gross negligence and be allowed to have either or both theories submitted to the jury if supported by the evidence. Jenson v. Spencer, 269 Or 411, 525 P2d 153 (1974)

This sec­tion will not bar an ac­tion for loss of consortium with a spouse; overruling Whang v. Hong, 206 Or 125, 290 P2d 185, 291 P2d 270 (1955). Naber v. Thompson, 274 Or 309, 546 P2d 467 (1976)

Comparative fault statute, [former] ORS 18.470, applies to cases governed by this sec­tion. Johnson v. Tilden, 278 Or 11, 520 P2d 1188 (1977)

Guest passenger laws of British Columbia should have been applied where Oregon’s involve­ment was merely that of forum state and Oregon’s policy did not conflict with British Columbia policy. Fisher v. Huck, 50 Or App 635, 624 P2d 177 (1981)


There may be benefit to defendant (other than social) which keeps plaintiff from being guest, even though benefit does not qualify as pay­ment because it is not “substantial benefit in a ma­te­ri­al or business sense.” Havlina v. Guaranty Chevrolet Co., 265 Or 562, 509 P2d 415 (1973)

If plaintiff was riding as “favor” to operator but only in sense that it was in furtherance of mutually desirable social rela­tionship, plaintiff would be guest. Havlina v. Guaranty Chevrolet Co., 265 Or 562, 509 P2d 415 (1973)

Ques­tion of plaintiff’s status as guest passenger, due to the possibility of benefit conferred upon defendant, is properly left to jury. Ghafoor v. Taj, 267 Or 205, 516 P2d 75 (1973)

When plaintiff was swimming from defendant’s boat for the purpose of wa­terskiing behind it, she was still a guest passenger. Hankins v. Bates, 271 Or 676, 534 P2d 170 (1975)

Two ele­ments must coexist to create host-guest rela­tionship (1) absence of substantial benefit to host; and (2) invita­tion motivated by host’s spirit of hospitality. Baker v. Stutzman, 273 Or 530, 542 P2d 478 (1975)

Where trip of over 400 miles at night was undertaken solely at request of and accommoda­tion for plaintiff, pay­ment of $10 for gas did not remove plaintiff from guest passenger status. Fullerton v. White, 273 Or 649, 542 P2d 1017 (1975)

Person is not being “transported” where that per­son has made no voluntary contact with vehicle. Kruse v. Fitzpatrick, 278 Or 185, 563 P2d 680 (1977)

Where accident occurred in British Columbia but both host and guest were Oregon residents, guest passenger statute applied because, while Oregon had interest in protec­tion of Oregon hosts, British Columbia’s interest in ability of its residents to obtain compensa­tion was unaffected by applica­tion of Oregon law. Tower v. Schwabe, 284 Or 105, 585 P2d 662 (1978)

Sec­tion requiring airplane guest passengers to prove gross negligence to recover for injuries without placing corresponding burden on motor vehicle and other guest passengers does not violate Article I, sec­tion 20 of Oregon Constitu­tion or Equal Protec­tion or Due Process Clauses of Fourteenth Amend­ment. Urton v. Hudson, 101 Or App 147, 790 P2d 12 (1990), Sup Ct review denied

Gross Negligence

Although it may be shown that occurrence was preceded by several acts of ordinary negligence, it is only when all of these acts combined with existing circumstances show a foolhardy attitude on part of driver that gross negligence has been es­tab­lished. Bottom v. McClain, 260 Or 186, 489 P2d 940 (1971)

Proof of drinking and erratic driving prior to an accident, plus ordinary negligence, can equal gross negligence. Gatten v. Widman, 269 Or 112, 523 P2d 1007 (1974)

Defendant’s failure to keep a lookout, even if found by jury, would have been insufficient evidence of gross negligence. Salmon v. Miller, 269 Or 267, 525 P2d 104 (1974)

If there is evidence of substantial consump­tion of alcohol or evidence of consump­tion of a smaller amount but corrobora­tion by external manifesta­tions of such influence, then inference that the defendant’s con­duct was affected by his consump­tion is allowed. Jenson v. Spencer, 269 Or 411, 525 P2d 153 (1974)

Mere inadvertence, brief inatten­tion or error in judg­ment as to proper speed does not constitute gross negligence without some basis for inferring acts were done with reckless mental state or conscious indifference to safety of others. Smith v. Barry, 37 Or App 319, 587 P2d 483 (1978)

Evidence that defendant driver was warned by his passenger to cease his reckless driving, that defendant considered warnings, rejected them and continued to drive in the same manner was sufficient to support a finding of gross negligence under this sec­tion. Wootten v. Dillard, 286 Or 129, 592 P2d 1021 (1979)

Law Review Cita­tions

51 OLR 469, 471 (1972); 8 WLJ 38, 46, 47 (1972); 54 OLR 491-495 (1975); 13 WLJ 53 (1976); 16 WLR 125 (1979); 18 WLR 329 (1982)

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 30—Actions and Suits in Particular Cases, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors030.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2017, Chapter 30, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano030.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.