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Are Parents Responsible When Their Child Causes a Bicycle Accident?

— April 22, 2022

Child liability has been around for many years and is still a part of our civil law system. Under this doctrine, parents are responsible for the acts and injuries of their children.

Bike riding is one of the best activities for kids and adults alike. However, while biking can be great exercise, it can also be dangerous. If you or your child is involved in an accident, do you think the parents are responsible for damages?

Child Liability

Child liability has been around for many years and is still a part of our civil law system. Under this doctrine, parents are responsible for the acts and injuries of their children, including those involving automobiles. In simpler words, parents might be liable for a child’s negligent acts if they know or has reason to know that the child should be controlled, but they don’t take any reasonable actions to do so. Known as negligent supervision, this type of liability can go beyond a child’s parents.

There are exceptions to this. The most common one is when the child is operating the vehicle with the permission of a parent or guardian. However, this can be difficult to prove because it may require an admission by the parent or guardian that they allowed the child to operate the vehicle. 

In addition, other exceptions include when the child was operating an agricultural vehicle such as a tractor or when the child was operating an off-road vehicle such as a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear.

Parental Negligence

Parental negligence occurs when a parent fails to supervise or control their child properly, and that child causes harm to another person. In most cases, the parent will not be held responsible for the injuries caused by the child, with some exceptions. Instead, the court will consider two factors:

• Was the child under the age of 14 at the time of the accident?

• Did the parent know or should have known about their child’s dangerous behavior?

How Does Parental Negligence Work?

If a parent was negligent and failed to control their child, who caused an accident, they may be liable for damages. However, it is important to note that liability cannot attach if the parents were not negligent in some way. For example, if a parent did everything to stop their child from causing harm, they could not be held responsible.

How to Prove Negligence in a Bicycle Accident Involving a Child

If a car hit your child while riding their bicycle, it would be up to you to prove that the driver was negligent. This can be done by proving one or more of the following:

• The driver failed to follow traffic laws related to pedestrians or bicyclists

• The driver was intoxicated

• The driver was distracted by texting and driving or something else

• The driver had defective brakes, lights, or other equipment

In some cases, parents might have difficulty proving that the accident happened because of another person’s negligence. For example, if your child rode their bike on the street and a car hit them, it might not be easy to prove that the driver did anything wrong. If there aren’t any witnesses who saw what happened, it could be your word against theirs. However, you might get compensation with a personal injury attorney’s help in Myrtle Beach, as law firms have the resources to investigate such situations, reconstruct accidents, and hire experts to testify on your behalf. 

On the other hand, if a child smashes their bike against someone’s car door, causing material damage, that person might have a case against you. 

In most states, a minor cannot be held responsible for the harm they caused because the law does not consider them to have the ability to understand the consequences of their actions.

Fallen bike in side rearview mirror; image by Alexas_Fotos, via
Fallen bike in side rearview mirror; image by Alexas_Fotos, via

So, if your child causes damages or injuries in a bicycle accident, it might be best to hire an attorney to manage your case.

Parents May Be Held Responsible for the Injuries Caused by Their Children When They Were Negligent

In general, the parents of a minor child may be held civilly liable for any harm caused by their child. This is because minors cannot enter into contracts or own property in their name; thus, they rely on their parents and guardians to do so for them.

Additionally, parents have a legal responsibility for the safety of their children (this includes supervision). If the parents breach that duty and someone gets injured, they will likely be liable for any damages. Thus, if a child causes an accident while riding their bike and injures another person due to negligent supervision by the parents/guardians, then the parents may be liable.

The first thing to note is that if somebody gets hurt because of someone else’s negligence, they are legally entitled to damages. This could include payment for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and even lost wages if they could not work after the accident. 

Some injuries can be very serious, especially if someone suffers head or neck injuries. These injuries can have permanent effects on your life and be incredibly expensive to treat over time.

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