Can Children Be Held Negligent?

The question is sometimes asked whether or not a child can be found negligent. Below we have described the negligence standard, comparative negligence, and the standard for those children under 7-years-old.

Negligence Standard

A child is thought to possess only the discretion that is common to children and therefore should be held only to the exercise of care that is expected of a child his/her own age and capacity.

A motorist is expected to anticipate the ordinary behavior of a child when they are present, exercising a degree of care consistent with such circumstances.

Comparative Negligence

A child between the ages of seven and fourteen is found to be incapable of being contributory negligent. This however can be rebutted if it can be factually shown that the child is sufficiently mature and has the ability to avoid danger and make intelligent judgments.

Comparative negligence issues are up to the jury to resolve unless the evidence is clear that only one conclusion can be made.

Children Under 7-Years-Old

A child that is under the age of seven-years-old is incapable of negligence, as a matter of law. Children under seven should also not be held liable for intentional torts. They are conclusively presumed to be incapable of contributory negligence.

Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC