Children on bicycles – it is not a case of if they will get into an accident, but rather when it will happen. Any parent who learned to ride a bike as a child knows that most of these accidents will be them falling off and scraping a knee. However, there is always a chance that the naturally reckless behavior that comes with youth will result in something more serious. However, the question is, if your child gets into an accident on their bicycle with a pedestrian or even a car, do the parents shoulder the legal blame for any damages?
For drivers involved in accidents with children who were out riding their bikes, the law tends to be deeply more sympathetic to the child, more so if they were injured. However, the law goes above simple sympathy in these cases as it is expected that adults exercise a certain duty of care in the presence of children. If it can be proved that the driver saw the child, knew they were traveling through areas where children frequent or passed any sort of cautionary sign that children may be about, it can be argued that they needed to exercise more caution than usual.
In these cases, it needs to be proved that the adult driver had no way of preventing the accident in order to not be negligent.
If it can be proven that the adult driver was in no way negligent, then there is only one other side that will be to blame. However, a child can’t pay for damages. When a child is found negligent, their caretaker is the one whole will bear the punishment.
Under the law, a child cannot be negligent under the tender years doctrine. This means children under three are incapable of the thought required to cause a negligent accident. However, most children do not ride their first bicycle until after that age. Any child that is older than three can be considered negligent, and until the age of majority – 18 years old – their parent will still be held responsible for their actions.
When there is a bicycle accident that involves a child, essentially it becomes a defense case for both sides until it can be decided where negligence lands. The adult will be out to prove that they fulfilled their duty of care while the child’s parent will seek to prove that their child was not negligent. After the courts make the decision on where negligence lies, that is where your standard accident suit begins. The driver may press for damages from the parents, while the parents may press for damages from the driver. If the latter is true, the adult driver should expect court sympathy to come into play. The younger the child was, the more sympathetic they will be. Alternatively, if the child was a teenager, the courts will be less sympathetic. The adult driver’s legal counsel may even be able to prove a pattern of reckless behavior when it comes to placing negligence on them if the child has been in an incident before.
Have you been in an accident with a cyclist? Bicycles on streets are becoming more common with each passing day. It is not only an environmentally friendly travel option, but it is affordable and great for the body as well. However, until drivers are properly educated on how to share the road with bicycles, accidents will continue to happen. If you have been in a bicycle accident and need representation to help you get the compensation that you deserve, then contact us today.