A New York judge has ruled that a 4-year-old who was accused of hitting an elderly woman during a bike accident can be sued for negligence. The judge’s ruling did not find that the little girl was negligent. Instead the ruling allows a lawsuit to be brought against her and her mother.
According to the facts the judge reviewed, a four-year-old girl and an unrelated five-year-old boy were riding their bikes down a Manhattan sidewalk in April 2009. The two children had training wheels on their bikes and were under the supervision of their mothers. At some point the children began to race their bikes down the sidewalk and ran into an 87-year-old woman who was walking. The woman was “seriously and severely injured” from the bicycle accident and sustained a hip fracture that required surgery according to the suit. The elderly woman died from unrelated causes three months later.
The elderly woman’s estate sued the children and their mothers for negligence and claimed that the children and mothers acted negligently in the accident. The four-year-old girl’s attorney responded to the claim by explaining the girl was too young to be held liable for negligence because the girl riding her bike with training wheels under her mother’s supervision was not “engaged in an adult activity.” The young girl’s attorney also argued that courts as a rule do not find children under the age of four to be capable of being negligent.
The judge explained his decision by saying that children under the age of four are incapable of negligence under the law but the young girl was over the age of four at the time of the accident. The judge added there is no rule that disallows negligence for children over the age of four. The child is compared to a reasonably prudent child in the same situation and is capable of being sued by a Shreveport attorney for a bicycle accident.