One issue that does not arise often in negligence case, but can be a factor
is whether a child who causes an injury can be held liable for the damages.
It is clear that when an adult, or even a mature teen is negligent and
causes injury, they will be held liable for the damages. But what about
when a child is negligent?
Unlike what some people may think or say, negligence law across the U.S.
is individualized to particular states. As a result, there are different
rules that apply to similar situations all over the country. This is no
more true than with child negligence. One state may say that a 7-year-old
is incapable of being negligent in the eyes of the law, while another
may make the cut off 5 years old.
This principle was on display earlier this year when the Utah Supreme Court
announced in a decision what the age-based negligence cut off would be
for that state. In
Nielson v. Bell, a babysitter sued a 5-year-old boy and his parents for negligence when
the boy threw a toy shark at the woman, causing her to go blind in one
eye. The case went to the Supreme Court of Utah where they decided that
as a matter of law, a 5-year-old in Utah is incapable of being negligent
in the eyes of the law.
Florida and Child Negligence
Like Utah and other states, Florida has a rule regarding child negligence.
But it is different from other states, as is to be expected. The Florida
Supreme Court took on a case in 1970 seeking to answer the question of
how young a child could be to consider liable for negligence in Florida.
In that case, a 4-year-old child was accused of being contributorily negligent
to a car accident, and the court needed to decide whether that was legally
possible. In their opinion, the court determined that as a matter of law,
a 6-year-old child or younger could not be held liable for negligence.
And that rule stands today.
When it comes to other children older than 6 years, other rules apply,
too. For example, if a child younger than 18 is accused of negligence,
then a specific standard will be applied to the situation to assess liability.
The standard is what a reasonable child of similar age and circumstances
would have done. And that question is for the jury to decide.
Needless to say, any case involving children and negligence will necessarily
be complex and difficult to take to court and win. But the same is true
for any case involving personal injury. Experience and expertise are the
most important factors that any victim should consider before hiring an
attorney to take on a case.
Panama City Area Accident and Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident, or because of another’s
contact us. Our team at
The Pittman Firm
will help you understand what your options are, and what steps you need
to take going forward so you can be fully and justly compensated.