My daughter and a boy were playing soccer outside, when she came running home with a bleeding mouth and broken tooth. She said her playmate pushed her and she fell. We went to talk to the kid and his parent, but the child denied it. Later, when I had the chance when the child was by himself, I asked him what happened and he answered with “she was in my way.” I am enraged by this because my daughter lost her adult front tooth. Can we sue them?
Minors may be held civilly liable for their own tortious conduct, but it is subject to certain principles which may determine the measure and the limit of their liability. For example, they are not liable for punitive damages unless they acted with discernment, that they knew what they did was wrong (Fam.C. § 6600). For negligence liability, they are also not held liable in the same standards as adults would be in the same situation (California Civil Jury Instructions 402).
Parents are not necessarily held liable for their child’s misconduct, unless the following circumstances are present:
- The parent has knowledge of the child’s prior misconduct
- The parent signed the child’s driver’s license application or the child drives the parent’s car with permission
- The child is guilty of willful misconduct
- The child was given access to firearms
- The child defaced another’s property with graffiti; or
- The child is convicted of a crime and ordered to pay restitution to the victim.
Any case involving children may be more complex and sensitive, so it is advisable to consult and work with an attorney who is an expert in personal injury for more information and proper guidance.