You may have heard that you can't sue a minor or that a minor can't be held liable for damages or injury, but this is not necessarily the case. While lawsuits involving children are handled differently, a minor or his or her parent can be held liable for injuries or damage to another party. Here are some things to know about suing a minor for injury and damage.
Can a Minor Be Sued?
The answer to this is both yes and no. It depends on several factors such as your state, the age of the minor, and parental responsibility. The minor is held to a different legal standard and the judge's decision is often based on what is considered normal behavior for that child's age and intelligence.
Can a Minor Be Considered Negligent?
The laws vary from state, but in most states, children who are very young are never considered negligent no matter what they did or how badly they injured someone. However, if you can prove that the minor willfully caused harm, you may still have a case.
Can the Parent Be Sued Instead?
Yes, the parent may be liable if it can be shown that the he or she contributed to the minor causing the injury. In some states, parents are automatically considered negligent for certain types of torts, but the amount you can be compensated is capped.
When is the Parent Considered Negligent?
The parent is usually considered negligent if he or she failed to control or supervise his or her child adequately. However, if it can be shown that parent did everything possible to supervise or control the child, then the parent may not be considered negligent.
Who Will Pay the Judgment?
This is another thing that depends on your state's laws as well as the cause and type of injury and damage. In most cases, the parent will end up paying for the judgment even if the minor is legally responsible for it. However, even if the parent doesn't pay the judgment, the minor could still be required to pay as soon as he or she is 18 years old and working.
In some cases, it may not be possible to recover any compensation even though the minor was clearly at fault. In other cases, even if you get a judgment, you may have to wait a long time before you are fully compensated. Since these cases can be confusing and complicated, it's important to have an experienced personal injury attorney look at your case before you move forward.
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