Can a Child Be Negligent in an Accident That Causes Personal Injury?
If you or a loved one is suffered injuries in a car accident, you must prove that the responsible party was at fault in order to recover compensation for your losses. In a case based upon the carelessness or negligence of another person, “at fault” means that the individual failed to use a reasonable amount of care to ensure that his or her actions behind the wheel wouldn’t harm someone. However, under Mississippi law, victims have certain responsibilities as well: They cannot engage in actions that contribute to their own injuries. If an injured victim’s conduct plays a role in the car accident, his or her compensation will be reduced by the amount of comparative fault attributable to the conduct.
The theory of comparative negligence is relatively easy to apply to the actions of adults, but certain accidents raise the question: Do comparative negligence principles apply when a child’s conduct contributes to his or her injuries? An example would be a youth that dashes into busy traffic, such as on a bicycle or walking. The answer is complicated, but a Biloxi car accident attorney can help you understand your options if your child is hurt under similar circumstances.
Cases Addressing the Comparative Negligence of Children
There is no statute that defines comparative negligence when a child’s conduct contributes to his or her injuries. Instead, Mississippi courts have developed tests over time through their decisions in cases, which have the effect of law in the state. The common law principle that applies in comparative negligence cases is the Rule of Sevens, which is straightforward in some cases:
- A child under the age of seven is presumed to be incapable of negligence due to his or her age. This is a legal presumption that cannot be overcome by evidence to the contrary.
- Children over the age of 14 are presumed to be capable of negligent actions.
The matter is somewhat murky for children aged 7-14. They are also presumed to be incapable of negligence; however, the opposing party can rebut this presumption and argue that the child was capable of exercising reasonable, responsible judgment. Facts showing that the youth understood and appreciated the danger would be strong evidence in finding that the child is at least partially at fault.
A Biloxi Attorney Will Protect Your Child’s Interests
Depending on their ages, children are held to a certain standard when riding a bike or walking along roadways, so comparative negligence theories may apply if they fail to conduct themselves accordingly. You can be sure the responsible party and insurers will try to pin the blame on your child if he or she is injured in an accident, so you need a knowledgeable lawyer to fight for your child’s rights. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy Guice in Biloxi, MS have decades of experience representing clients of all ages, helping them obtain the full amount of compensation available under the law. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.