Children and adults are distinct, as the law acknowledges. The courts use a different standard for judging adult behavior when assessing children’s conduct. Courts allow for special needs and immaturity of children. This is evident in a variety of ways when it comes to personal injury.
Children in their tender years may be considered incapable of negligence.
o Special precautions must be taken when distributing settlement proceeds to minors who have been injured.
o A lien could be placed on the settlement to pay child support.
Children who are trespassing victims may be given lenient treatment.
I’ll be addressing the topic of negligence and children this month. This discussion concerns Pennsylvania law. The law in your state may be similar.
The stronger the assumption that the child cannot be negligent, the younger they are. Under seven-year-olds are considered incapable of negligence. This presumption cannot be challenged, no matter what the facts of an incident. In other words, a six-year-old who is hit by a car will usually prevail against the driver.
However, the driver’s negligence must still be proved. It should not be difficult to assign negligence to the driver if the child did not run directly into the vehicle’s side. The child’s chances of success in litigation are high if the motorist was able to see the child for more than a second. The adult motorist is presumed capable of taking steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. He or she must act quickly.
A minor between the ages seven and fourteen is also considered incapable of negligence. However, this presumption is not supported. As the fourteenth year approaches, this presumption becomes less valid. Even though a 14-year-old isn’t expected to be treated with the same care as an adult,