Accidents and other incidents involving adults usually result in a personal injury case. But what about cases when a child causes the injury or ends up being injured? According to Personal injury law, children don’t yet have the same well-formed judgment that adults do. And because of this, Personal injury law has created rules for compensation and liability regarding accidents where a child was involved.
Injuries to children
Accidents can happen. Every parent can confirm this. However, some injuries to children can result in a personal injury claim, especially when the cause of the injury is someone else’s carelessness. For injuries caused to your children, a school might be liable. That’s just one example.
Even though getting compensation for a minor (generally a person younger than 18) can be different from state to state, in general terms, a minor has the right for compensation for the same types of injuries/damages you will find in a personal injury claim for an adult. This includes, but it’s not limited to, payment for pain and suffering, permanent injury, emotional distress, and disability. Furthermore, the parent of the injured child can also have the right to be compensated, for medical expenses paid on behalf of its child.
Since a child cannot negotiate a settlement for a personal injury case, the parent usually negotiates on behalf of the child or hires an attorney. Some states require a judge’s approval before the claims can be settled. The approval process is usually very simple and straightforward. You fill out a few simple forms and file them with the court for approval.
Accidents Caused by Children
Liability for accidents caused by minors is established on the same idea of care and carelessness as accidents caused by adults. However, the same standards of care, that are normally expected from an adult, cannot be expected from a minor. Furthermore, carelessness implies that someone understands the risks, and minors don’t comprehend risks the way adults do.
When it comes to establishing liability for accidents caused by a minor, the law applies different standards to different age groups. Very your children (younger than 7) are generally not liable for accidental injuries. They’re simply too young to comprehend that they were careless and in what manner. This of course, doesn’t exclude the child’s parents or legal guardians for negligence and failure to control the child.
The child can be held liable for injuries it causes intentionally, once he/she is old enough and able to tell right from wrong. If one child intentionally hurts another child or causes material damage to a vehicle by throwing a rock at it, both the child that committed the intentional act and the negligent parents, may be liable.
In case of older children, they can generally be considered as liable for their negligent conduct and if they don’t behave carefully, which is measured by what their peers consider reasonably careful. Once the child reaches its mid-teenage years, he / she is held to almost the same standards as adults. For example, when driving a car, the minor is held to the exact same standards as adults are.
Since children don’t normally have a lot of their own money, and in case a minor is found liable, there are various ways an injured person can be compensated. First and foremost, actions caused by minors are usually covered by insurance. So if a minor is driving a car, the minor’s own car insurance or the owner’s car insurance (if the car is owned by the parent or employer) will cover the accident.
In cases where the accident doesn’t involve a vehicle, the homeowner’s insurance policy may cover the accident. In those cases, the victim will be dealing directly with the parent’s insurance company.
When there is no insurance that covers the minors conduct and you are seriously injured, you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the minor. If you get a judgment from a court which says how much the minor owes you, he/she will be paying for the damages as soon as he/she turns 18 (in most states) and starts earning income. However, these processed can take long and are only worth pursuing when the injury is extensive. In these cases, this will require help from a skilled attorney.
Parents’ Liability for Minors’ Car Accident
Minors driving a car or a motorcycle are usually covered by the vehicle’s insurance policy or if the car/motorcycle is owned by their parent, by the parent’s insurance policy.
When a minor is the registered owner of a vehicle but has no insurance, the majority of states hold the parents liable for the damages (from $5,000 to $25,000) caused by the minor. So when you’re involved in a car accident when the minor has no coverage or very little, you might be able to collect compensation from both policies (parent’s and child’s).