Children are often immune from the court system because they are too immature and too young to understand the difference between right and wrong. However, in certain cases children can still be sued. When a child injures a person, the injured party can sue both the child and the parent in court in order to recover damages for their injuries. Although the child is sued for their actions, the parents are the ones who usually end up paying for the damages. This all depends in what age category that the child falls into.
If the child is under the age of 4, almost all courts in every state acknowledge that there is no liability for that child’s negligent acts. At the age of 4 or younger, a child is too young to know his or her negligent capabilities. If the child is between the ages of 4 and 14, there is a strong belief that the child is incapable of being negligent.
This belief can be overcome if the plaintiff can show evidence that a reasonable child at the same age with similar intelligence and experience would have known that their actions are wrong and would have recognized the danger involved. Even though the child may not be old enough to bear some legal responsibility, the child may be held to a lower legal standard.
Can the Parents Be Sued Also?
When a child injures someone, the injured party can also sue the parents of the child in court to recover damages. The parents can be sued under the theory of negligent supervision. Each state has its own law regarding parents’ civil liability for the acts of the actions of their children. Parents can be held responsible for their children’s harmful actions much the same way that employers are responsible for the harmful actions of their employees.
However, there is a very important requirement needed to hold a parent liable for negligent supervision. A parent is liable for a child’s negligent acts if the parent knows or has reason to know that it is necessary to control the child and the parent fails to take reasonable actions to control the child.
Finally, since minors cannot represent themselves in court, a child cannot be sued directly. Therefore, the parents are usually held vicariously liable for the child’s actions. If the parent’s do not provide a lawyer for the child, then the court will provide a guardian ad litem attorney to represent the child.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The laws regarding parental liability for the acts of children vary from state to state. A children lawyer can help you understand your rights and those of your child. If criminal charges are brought against you for the acts of your child, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.