When someone acts without thinking and injures you, you can sue them for negligence. However, when the person who injured you is a child, you may have a more difficult time proving your case. Here's what you should know.
The age of the child matters.
Under the law, children aren't held to the same standards of behavior as adults.
Children under the age of four are legally presumed to be incapable of negligence. In order to be negligent, you have to have the ability to know whether or not you are behaving in a reasonable manner.
Essentially, the courts have held that anybody under four years of age isn't capable of understanding cause and effect well enough to be reasonable about anything (a presumption to which many parents will agree). If you tried to bring a lawsuit, it would fail from the start. Children over the age of four can be sued, and that's where things get much more complicated.
The details of the incident matter.
In order to be successful, a negligence lawsuit has to prove that the child had an obligation to act responsibly and carefully and failed to do so. However, the law still treats juveniles differently than it does adults, so what is "reasonable" in one situation might not be considered reasonable in another.
The court will have to determine if, compared to another child of the same age, intelligence, and experience, the child that injured you could be expected to understand that what he or she was doing was dangerous and likely to result in your injury.
In a particularly infamous example, the court found that a 5-year-old child who deliberately pulled a chair out from under his arthritic aunt as she started to sit was capable of understanding that his actions were going to cause his aunt to fall (it was, after all, a deliberate prank). While he didn't intend to actually hurt his aunt, he was old enough to understand that he was going to cause her to fall and that falling could injure her.
However, in a recent case, an excited 8-year-old who jumped into his aunt's arms to give her an exuberant hug, was found not to have acted negligently, even though the hug caused them both to tumble to the ground, injuring his aunt.
The availability of funds matters.
Since children seldom have resources of their own that can be used to cover any damages in a lawsuit, whether or not you have a case often depends on if there is anyone who can pay you if you win.
You may end up bringing a second lawsuit against the child's parents, alleging negligent supervision. Again, the circumstances of the case are usually very important when deciding if that tactic is possible. If the parents were exercising reasonable caution and control over the child, they may not be liable for any unforeseen accidents, like in the case of the boy whose hug injured his aunt.
In either case, you're likely to be requesting the parent's homeowner's insurance to pay for the damages caused by the negligence of the child (or his or her parents). If the parents don't have the money or insurance to pay for your injuries, you can still sue, but the likelihood of recovering for your damages is slim.
If you've been injured due to the actions of a child, you'll need to discuss your case carefully with a personal injury attorney, such as Large & Associates Attorneys. Your attorney will want to discuss all three of these aspects of your case with you, so go prepared with as much information as possible.
What kind of injuries can you hold someone liable for? How severe do the injuries have to be? When my husband was injured by a faulty saw, we weren't sure what we were going to do. At that time, we didn't have any health insurance and had to try to come up with the money for emergency and long-term medial treatment. This created an impossible time for my family. My husband was out of work and we had medical bills piling up because a product that we paid a lot of money for malfunctioned and injured my husband. So, what can you do when this happens? Read through my blog.