What Happens when a Minor Causes an Accident
Accidents are something we all take care to avoid, seeking proper training and acting with good judgment to ensure that we move through the world safely. New Jersey requires that motorists have training and experience in how to follow traffic laws, and many professionals require licenses to provide evidence of sufficient preparation for their craft. When accidents do happen, the liable adult is held responsible, often being required to provide financial compensation for injury and damages caused through their insurance provider. Is the same true when the person responsible is a minor? Is the minor held legally and financially liable? Read on to learn more about how New Jersey treats minors in personal injury cases.
Can a Child be Held Liable for Causing Injuries in NJ?
According to New Jersey’s Model Jury Charge 7.11, children of a certain age are “required to act with the same amount of care as children of similar age, judgment, and experience.” Minors who ought to have the wherewithal and training to understand the dangers and consequences of dangerous actions can, therefore, be held liable for comparative negligence under New Jersey law.
New Jersey is a comparative negligence state, meaning that parties can be held partially liable for the percentage of fault they had in causing an accident, be it on the road or in some other setting. As such, if a jury determines that the minor was capable of understanding the dangers of their actions and had received proper training in preventing it – such as in the case of a young licensed driver – they can be considered a comparatively negligent party susceptible to the same consequences for their actions as an adult.
The Model Jury Charge notes that children under the age of seven are to be presumed incapable of acting negligently. The jury is instructed to carry this presumption and require evidence to the contrary, such as specific training of the child, to remove this presumption of incapacity for negligent action.
In summary, a minor can be considered comparatively negligent depending on the circumstance and be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Parents’ or Guardians’ Responsibility for Accidents Caused by Minors
In certain cases, a parent or guardian can be claimed liable for the actions of a child that cause injury or damage to another. In addition to claiming that a minor was negligent due to their capacity to understand their actions and the resulting danger caused by them, a victim may claim that the parent or guardian of the minor was also negligent by allowing the child to operate under the conditions in which they caused the accident. For example, the parent or guardian may also be sued for allowing a minor to operate a family-owned vehicle.
When Can a Minor Be Held Liable in NJ?
As noted above, a child over the age of seven – and even a child under seven in certain circumstances – can be held liable for causing an accident if they are proven by a jury to be comparatively negligent, which is to say that they were of an age and understanding to recognize the dangers of their actions and engaged in them regardless.
Contact our Trenton Attorneys for Help with Your Accident Case involving a Minor in NJ
If you have been injured in an accident with a young driver who is technically a minor, it is essential that you contact a skilled accident and personal injury lawyer who can assess the applicability of comparative negligence, liability, insurance, and compensation relevant to your case. Our accident law team at Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson is on your side.
We have successfully represented clients across New Jersey in towns like East Windsor, Pennington, Trenton, Ewing, and also towns in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Somerset County to ensure their rights are protected when it comes to accident injury claims. Contact us at 609-528-2596 to discuss your case today. The consultation is free and available to meet your needs.