Personal Injuries Involving Children Part 2: The Child as the Cause
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on May 29, 2023
In ‘Part 1′ of Personal Injuries Involving Children, we explored the two options that children who are the victims of personal injury have when it comes to bringing their case to court and obtaining proper compensation for their injury. But there is a flipside: what if a child causes a serious personal injury?
You can’t exactly throw a 6 year old in juvie or slap a $2,000 settlement fine in their name and call it a day – procedure varies greatly depending on a myriad of factors about the situation and the child.
When Can a Child Be Held Responsible for a Personal Injury?
The first thing to keep in mind is that ‘children’ in this context refers to minors in general – which is defined as persons younger than 18 years old – and working off of this definition, children can be at fault and intentionally cause injury to others. However, many children cause accidents without knowing that they’re doing so , and the law cannot be applied in the same way in every case of minors perpetrating a personal injury. The general age-related rules are:
- Children younger than 7 years old are not held legally accountable under common law for injuries caused due to the lack of ability to comprehend the concepts of consequences, risks, and carelessness. There is usually a lack of intent, and that is an important defining feature in legal accountability.
- Children between 7 and 14 differ case by case. Once a child is deemed old enough to comprehend right and wrong and demonstrates comparable intelligence and reason to children of the same age, they can be held accountable for serious and intentional injuries that they cause. Juvenile detention centers and rehabilitation become an option at this age, though penalties are usually still lower. The parents of the child will also be investigated with the possibility of being charged, which happens more often the younger the child is. Parents can be held liable in place of any minor for negligent behavior that allowed their child to cause harm in the first place.
- Children 14 and older are eligible to be tried as an adult, depending on intent and severity. Juvenile detention and rehabilitation is also still an option, but since they are assumed within reason to know negligent behavior from criminal intent, they are more liable to be held fully accountable for their actions than their parents are. The older the child is, the higher degree of responsibility will be allocated to them.
How is a Settlement Paid Out When a Minor Can’t Satisfy It?
Being responsible for the accident doesn’t mean that the child will be able to carry out the settlement in a traditional manner. They don’t have jobs like adults, or the means to carry out any other fitting sentence that would be dealt in an adult setting. This is where parental responsibility comes into play.
Having the proper insurance can stop this conundrum, but children and most teens don’t pay for their own insurance, they’re included on their parents’. Some may have their own car insurance, but that doesn’t cover everything. Even if car accidents can be covered, other damages would have to be covered by the personal liability coverage of the renters or homeowner’s insurance, and that usually resides under their parents’ plan that they’re included on, and the payment will come from there instead of a loan or out-of-pocket payment like some adults must do if held liable for a personal injury.
If the injury is serious enough, and the child or minor is old enough to be held accountable but isn’t covered by insurance, then the court might dole out a settlement that the minor will be responsible for paying as soon as they become a legal adult with the opportunity of earning an adult’s salary. Most courts will avoid this outcome at all costs, though, unless the minor is already being tried as an adult.
Cooper and Friedman, Personal Injury and Child Injury Lawyers in Louisville, KY
If you or someone you love has been injured by a minor in the State of Kentucky and are in need of an experienced personal injury attorney, give the lawyers at the Cooper & Friedman law firm a call. The attorneys at Cooper and Friedman PLLC have over 50 years of combined experience defending the rights of personal injury and child injury victims. Contact us with questions you might have or schedule a free case consultation with an attorney by calling 502-459-7555 today.