Can You Sue a Minor for a Personal Injury?

As children are very rarely treated as adults when they commit a criminal offense, you might think that they are similarly off-limits if you are considering a civil suit. However, there are situations in which you may be able to collect a payout after a personal injury, though it is more difficult than if an adult was responsible. The child’s age and intent, as well as the nature of the activity the child was engaged in when your injury happened, are all factors in determining the minor’s liability. 

Children Younger Than 7

States vary on the maximum age in which minors may not be held liable at all for personal injuries, property and damage, and crimes. Some states have set that threshold at four years old, but Michigan law has made the minimum age seven. This means that children under the age of seven may not be named as a civil or criminal defendant. 

Minors Between Ages of 7 and 18

After the age of seven, there is a significant amount of gray area in determining whether you may sue that minor for damages related to a personal injury. One factor that courts look at when deciding liability of a minor between the ages of seven and eighteen is whether a child of a similar age, intelligence, and experience would be likely to commit the same act. If it is determined that this hypothetical, “reasonable” minor would not have been as negligent, then the presumption is that the minor who caused your personal injury might indeed be held liable.

Negligence vs. Intentionality

Besides the age of the offending party, the viability of a suit against a minor takes into account whether or not the act causing your injury was intentional. For example, a teenager mugging you and breaking your arm in the process would lay out an intentional act more clearly than, say, a child who causes you to wreck your car by skateboarding near a parking lot. If you are able to show that the minor intended to hurt you, and that he or she was capable of acting intentionally, then your case may become stronger. 

Parental Responsibility

As minors generally do not have the ability to pay for damages in a civil suit, parents (or, typically, their insurance companies) are generally held liable to a degree when the actions of their children cause damage. However, there are caps to the amount parents must pay on behalf of their children. Illinois, for example, has set the maximum amount at $20,000 for intentional acts while Michigan has set the cap much lower, at $2,500. 

Call Carla Aikens Today

No matter who is responsible for your personal injury, you have a right to pursue a civil suit that will pay for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a minor is responsible, collecting damages can be complex and difficult, but Attorney Carla D. Aikens will work to find facts that support your case. Please call the firm at (844) 835-2993 to begin your free consultation