Life in California can make for a dangerous journey with the rush of traffic on the freeways and the lack of care some people show to others. And sadly, the person responsible for you getting hurt could be a young person. Through bad judgment or reckless behavior, a minor can cause an accident that injuries you, and in some cases, they can even intend to harm you.
You may wonder if someone under the age of 18 can be sued to provide support to you while you attempt recovery from a serious injury. The answer is that you may not be able to hold the child responsible, but in California, the parents or guardians of that young person can be held accountable.
Your Options After Being Injured by a Minor
Children aren’t usually considered to have the capacity to enter into a legal agreement with anyone. This can make suing a minor and earning compensation difficult in most cases. They also likely don’t have any assets to speak of to help you pay your medical bills, even if they wanted to.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be held accountable for their behavior. Depending on their actions, they could still face criminal consequences. However, when seeking civil compensation through a personal injury lawsuit you’d usually be filing against the parents or guardians of the child.
Accident Liability for the Parents and Guardians of Minors
When deciding how much responsibility a child and parents or guardians will be forced to accept, the intentions of the person at fault will play a big role. Did the minor’s carelessness cause harm to the victim or did the minor intend to hurt someone?
- Willful misconduct – This can include a physical attack or purposely shooting someone with a firearm. When it’s determined that minors intended harm with their actions, victims are usually allowed to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation from the parents or guardians. They can be made to pay $30,000 or more for each person injured or killed (the limit goes up every two years with inflation). There is also a limit on property damage liability parents must accept when the damage was purposely caused by a child.
- Negligent Acts – If a minor doesn’t purposely cause an accident, there will be a ruling on whether the child’s actions were negligent. When ruling on if a child’s act was negligent, California courts will not weigh the actions against the way a reasonable adult is expected to behave. Instead, the child’s behavior will be measured against the expectations and limits of a child’s understanding at their current age and amount of life experiences. In some cases, a court may rule that the parents or guardians can be held accountable.
- Parent Neglect — A parent or guardian who doesn’t perform his or her duties to supervise a child who is a known risk for dangerous behavior could be found negligent. Any harm falling upon an innocent party could earn compensation from the parents.
Car Accidents Involving Minor Drivers and Parents and Guardian Liability
Parents must think twice about permitting their minors to drive a car. In California, the liability in a traffic accident caused by a minor falls to the person who signed the driver’s license application for a driver who is under 18. Although in order for parents to be accountable, the at-fault minor must have been driving with express or implied permission from a parent or guardian for the adults to be held liable.
Parents or guardians can be liable for any harm the driver causes. With car accidents, the intent of the driver won’t matter. The parent can be held responsible no matter if the child intended to cause harm or was simply careless.
Damages paid out by parents won’t exceed around $30,000 for injuries or death for actual damages. However, this doesn’t include the victim’s compensation for physical and emotional pain, which can be substantially more.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Serving California Victims
If you or a loved one are injured by the actions of a minor in California, don’t give up hope on earning support for what you are going through. Talk over your case in a free consultation with Martin Gasparian to find out just who can be held responsible for your accident.
Mr. Gasparian founded Maison Law to make sure victims aren’t left to pay for the consequences of some else’s mistake. Be sure to contact him for an expert look at all of the options you and your family have to secure help to rebuild your lives.