No one can doubt that raising a child is a challenge – a challenge with no guide books. It’s a challenge that is constantly changing and evolving: You can give your child all the advice and lectures in the world, but at the end of the day, they’ll still go their own way and make their own decisions as they grow and become their own person. By that point you can only sit back and hope your efforts made a difference.
But, just like adults, minors can be the unfortunate initiator of an accident, whatever kind it may be. And while the punishments may vary from state to state, the overall consensus is that just because the perpetrator is a child, it doesn’t mean that the damages they caused can be cleared and brushed under a rug.
As a personal injury attorney, from a law office like Legal Virtue can explain, there must be justice and compensation no matter who caused damages, otherwise the victim of the accident is simply left injured and helpless, with no compensation for their claimed injuries. How do personal injury cases differ when the perpetrator is a minor?
Different standards: While the same concept of negligence and duty of care applies to minors, the courts don’t hold the same standard to children as they would to adults. Courts have decided that minors don’t have the same understanding of laws and risks that adults do, and in any case, they wont be expected to express the same level of understanding of personal responsibility that you would expect from an adult.
Age based transfer of damages: The above idea is doubly true when the child is younger than the age of seven. From that age and under, courts assume a child is simply too young to understand what carelessness is, compared to an older child who would have at least some degree of understanding. Although liability is often transferred to a parent or both parents, there are loopholes: If a child has reached a certain age and it can be proven that the child can tell right from wrong, both the child and the parents will then be held liable.
Compensation: Naturally, since children don’t have income sources of their own, their parents’ insurance policy covers any damages. If not applicable, the parent’s homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance should cover any damages instead. In the incredibly unfortunate case that the parent has none of these, one might want to consider pursuing a lawsuit against the minor, as opposed to the parent. The minor wouldn’t have to pay the damages immediately, but would instead begin paying at the age of 18, when he or she starts earning money.