Personal injury cases involving minors are a complicated legal area. It entails a legal skirmish between the defendant and the plaintiff, much more if the minor is accused of the injury. In cases where the minor has caused the injury, who should be considered liable? Is it the child or the guardian? Can a lawsuit be filed against the minor?
Depending on your State, a personal injury case can be brought against anyone including minors. However, if the defendant is a minor, there is a huge possibility that the court will ask the parties to consider all possible civil remedies before pursuing the personal injury claims. Cases filed against minors will not only involve filing claims against the child but also proving the liabilities of the parents or guardians. The majority of personal injury cases end up with settlement agreements between the involved parties. In some cases, the plaintiff can pursue the case and get a judgment. However, he/she has to wait for the defendant to enter the workforce before the defendant can start paying for the personal injury claims. Most likely, the plaintiff will not find many personal injury lawyers who are willing to take such case.
If the plaintiff insists on filing a personal injury claim against the minor, they can try proving the liability of the parent for the negligent act of their child. Traditionally, the parents will have immunity over the acts committed by their children. However, there are exceptions to this rule. In some states, statutes can be used to force parents of the child to pay for the claims. The plaintiff must prove that the parents of the defendant willfully and negligently allowed and permitted the child to injure another person.
In common law, parents are only liable for the act of their child when at the time of the tort, the child is under the direct supervision and control of the parent. In such cases, the complainant can file negligence on the part of the parent and not on the child. Parents may also be held liable, if the injury caused by the child had previously been committed and the parents failed or still allowed it to happen again. In these cases, the court can order the child’s parent to pay for the injury caused by the child. However, in most cases, the parent’s insurance will not pay for the child’s negligence. The complainant would have to chase the family’s personal assets, which is quite difficult.
On the other hand if the injury is caused by ordinary negligence such as accidental tripping or pushing while playing, the parent or the child will not be liable for the injury. The court usually accepts the fact that these acts are normal behaviors for children.
If you think you have suffered an injury as a result of a child’s negligent act, you should discuss the case with a personal injury attorney who will explain to you your legal options and provide you with advice on what is your best option to follow.