Injured By A Minor? Why Intent Matters
Were you injured by the actions (or inactions) of a minor? If so, it may be tricky to get the financial compensation you need and deserve. In some cases, you may be able to sue the parent for financial liability, but you may also be able to sue the minor themselves. One of the most important key factors will be the intent of the child. Why does intent matter so much when minors are involved? Here's what every victim needs to know.
Intention Vs. Negligence
Personal injury generally happens in two different categories. The first is negligence. A driver who is texting while driving and hits a pedestrian is negligent. They failed to act with reasonable precaution to fulfill their duty of care toward the pedestrian.
Intentional, willful, or malicious injury, though, is treated differently in most state courts. If that driver saw their ex and pretended they were going to hit that person, they have intentionally inflicted emotional distress or even collateral injury. In general, it's much easier to sue for damages if the injury is caused by intentional acts rather than negligence.
Parental Responsibility and Intent
Many states assign some level of responsibility to a parent for their minor child's actions. These are known as parental responsibility laws, and they vary from state to state. If you live in a state with broad parental responsibility laws, you may sue the parent for either negligent actions or intentional torts.
However, if your state defines parental responsibility narrowly, you may only be able to sue them if the act was intentional. Illinois law, for example, has such limits in place for parental responsibility.
Suing the Minor and Intent
Don't overlook the possibility of suing the minor for liability. While this is less common — often because minors lack the funds to pay damages — it can still be done under the right circumstances. However, again, your case will be much more successful if the minor acted intentionally to cause harm. In some states, you may not sue a minor for negligence.
In addition, the standards for negligence may be different than for an adult. What is considered to be negligent is based on the experience, capacity, and understanding of a similar child — not a reasonable adult. Therefore, negligence is a harder bar to reach in court.
Where to Start
The best place to begin after an incident involving a minor is to meet with a qualified personal injury attorney in your state. They will help you understand your options under state law and build the best case possible regardless of who you can sue for damages.
For more information, contact a local personal injury attorney.