4-Year-Old Can Be Sued, Judge Rules in Bike Case

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Linda7NJ, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Linda7NJ

    Linda7NJ New Member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/nyregion/29young.html?_r=1


    Citing cases dating back as far as 1928, a judge has ruled that a young girl accused of running down an elderly woman while racing a bicycle with training wheels on a Manhattan sidewalk two years ago can be sued for negligence.

    The ruling by the judge, Justice Paul Wooten of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, did not find that the girl was liable, but merely permitted a lawsuit brought against her, another boy and their parents to move forward.

    :banghead:

    Moreat link above
     
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  3. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Ridiculous.
     
  4. Trino

    Trino Active Member

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    I don't know that this is ridiculous. An 87 yr old woman was killed by this child. IMO her parents should be held responsible, which is what will ultimately happen.
     
  5. reportertype

    reportertype Dogs are awesome!

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    The story says she died three months later of unrelated causes so this girl didn't kill her. I agree, ridiculous.
     
  6. Soulmagent

    Soulmagent Active Member

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    Had it happened that way I still dont see how they could hold a child of 4 responsible . Or the childs parent. Children are reckless and learn by making mistakes it is biological. The 87 year old had a duty to protect herself from injury and failed to do so.. If we are going to be making insane judgements lets go all the way and make a point of every crazy angle. I wonder if it is too late for them to put the kid up for adoption?
     
  7. Trino

    Trino Active Member

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    A person with a broken hip holds on for a while. They usually don't immediately die but develop other problems, which is most likely what happened here. The 87 yr old woman was merely walking down a sidewalk.

    It appears that the two children were racing their bikes with the mothers following. Apparently, there was an intersecting sidewalk, and the child went into the woman who was on the sidewalk. Maybe the mothers were talking and not paying attention to what the kids were doing.

    The child made a terrible mistake, of course, but still the mothers should have been supervising. If your child accidentally hits someone in a store, etc., aren't you going to apologize or, at least, tell you child to be more careful?
     
  8. BuzzieCat

    BuzzieCat New Member

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    IMO it's not totally out of line. Sure, the kid herself can't be held responsible and couldn't be expected to know what might happen if she ran into an elderly person with her bike, but the parent can be. I would like to know more about the exact circumstances before deciding what I think. Did the woman have time to get out of the way? Could she not see the children for some reason until it was too late? She may not have been able to move very fast, or she may have thought the child would swerve to miss her. If the parent was not watching the child very well, I don't know. I'm not around kids a lot, so I'm not sure how well a 4 YO could absorb pre-instructions like "when you're on your bike, don't run into people" and "be careful and look where you're going." If the kid's not old enough to watch out for herself and others, maybe it's best she not ride bikes until she's older, or that she do so in a more controlled environment, like a backyard or some other sheltered area. She could run out into the street and get run over.
     
  9. Soulmagent

    Soulmagent Active Member

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    If she assumed the children would swerve to miss her instead of moving she is liable. It is what is legally know as "last chance".

    What ever the kids were told about looking out for people on the side walk as precautionary measures such as be" careful "" As long as the use of the sidewalk was legal would meet the supervisory requirements as the childrens safty is what the supervision is meant to protect.

    The child cannot defend itself under our legal system and cannot express the moment correctly. The bike may have had a bent rim or fork the child may have had a muscle spasm making the accident unavoidable on her part . A gnat may have flew in her eye making it an act of god. The fact she cannot represent her fact or the facts of the accident violates her due process. IMO @ the craziness angle.
     
  10. Tuffy

    Tuffy Not really that tough...

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    Exactly! Four year-olds having to defend themselves in court is ridiculous. A four year-old being liable for damages in a bike accident is just plain stupid. Most four year-olds would be very new to bikes and are prone to have accidents (I know I did!) Even suing the parents for this accident is ridiculous.

    That little girl could have hit a tree or a sign, but tragically she hit an elderly woman. Regardless it was an accident. Not every accident requires that someone be sued. Sometimes a tragic accident is just that, an ACCIDENT.

    If the little girl is sued, would a judgment be levied against her? How would she pay it? Would her wages be garnished once she grows up and gets a job?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/29/AR2010102906493.html

    Really? A four-year-old can appreciate the danger to the elderly woman? You mean a four-year-old wouldn't think that if the woman were knocked down, she wouldn't just get back up like the little girl does? Maybe just a skinned knee?
     
  11. BuzzieCat

    BuzzieCat New Member

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    I'm not saying that's what happened. The article doesn't say.

    Well, the kids aren't very safe if they aren't able/aren't old enough to keep from running into things. Perhaps laws governing the use of sidewalks need to be revamped. If the kid can't avoid running into a probably slow-moving elderly person, what else can't she avoid running into, thus hurting herself, never mind anything/anyone else?

    That's what the lawyer is for and her parent, who apparently was present at the accident. I'm sure she's not being asked to represent herself and give 100% flawless, accurate testimony as to what happened.

    (Respectfully snipped)
    Her parents' insurance company is, what I understand, would be asked to pay. I'm under the understanding that the lady's insurance refused to pay her medical costs because the damage was caused by another.
     
  12. Tuffy

    Tuffy Not really that tough...

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    yeah, you're right, BuzzieCat. I guess I do know that the little girl won't have to pay. I still think the lawsuit is unnecessary. The family just needs to accept that it is an accident.
     
  13. BuzzieCat

    BuzzieCat New Member

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    I know it sounds ridiculous on the face of it, but it's probably a legal way of getting to her family's insurance company since their own won't pay. I know I wouldn't be able to pay my medical bills if I was injured by someone else and my insurance refused to pay. I guess that's the angle I'm looking at it from. Even if it is a 4 YO, that money has to come from somewhere. The hospital will want the woman's bills paid even though she is now deceased. In some ways this speaks to the difficulties in our legal and medical insurance systems that a child has to be sued for the money to be paid.

    Maybe if the girl is ruled not negligent, the elderly lady's insurance will have to pay? I dunno.
     
  14. Tuffy

    Tuffy Not really that tough...

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    I get what you're saying about getting money from the parent's insurance. My problem with the situation is that her family seems to feel that someone else should pay the woman's bills. I feel that it was no one's fault, just an accident. I the elderly woman's family can't pay her bills all at once, they could work out a payment plan with the hospital.

    The child doesn't have to be sued. The family is choosing to sue a child instead of accepting that the elderly woman was in an 'accident.' If they want the elderly woman's insurance to cover the bills, and it won't, their beef is with the insurance company, not a little girl. I just don't subscribe to the philosophy that someone else should pay her bills.
     
  15. reportertype

    reportertype Dogs are awesome!

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    That's weird the lady's insurance wouldn't pay. If I were in a car accident that wasn't my fault, my insurance would still cover me for any treatment. She must have had craptacular insurance, which is of course, very common.
     
  16. Soulmagent

    Soulmagent Active Member

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    I love this thread. It has been cracking me up all day. I am looking for a well to do 4 yr old to sue. Candy from a baby...
     
  17. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    Now I'm confused. Are you saying pedestrians on sidewalks have a legal duty to avoid bicycles? That strikes me (pardon the pun) as backwards.

    Or is it just that 87-year-olds have a legal duty to watch out for 4-year-olds?
     
  18. Soulmagent

    Soulmagent Active Member

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    Sort of ,ok yeah. One is responsible for ones own saftly after all.

    Remember I am only posting to encourge the craziness angle.

    http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_clear_chance
     
  19. BuzzieCat

    BuzzieCat New Member

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    http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1107

    No idea if this site is reputable or not, and IANAL, but

    "last clear chance -
    n. a rule of law in determining responsibility for damages caused by negligence, which provides that if the plaintiff...is negligent, that will not matter if the defendant...could have still avoided the accident by reasonable care in the final moments (no matter how slight) before the accident..."
     
  20. Soulmagent

    Soulmagent Active Member

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    Can a 4 year old be legally negligent? NY law says no but this child is 4 an some months so the judge allowed it though. But really is a 5 year old legally negligent?

    I really dont have that strong of feelings on the case other then it being absurd.
     
  21. legalmania

    legalmania Verified Paralegal

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    As far as I remember in order to prove negligence you have to prove some kind of intent. Below are the laws for bicycles in NY. Another thing is who owns the sidewalk? In certain states the sidewalk belongs to the city in others it belongs to the homeowner. Either way this is going to cost both parties money. A jury is going to have to find that the defendant was responsible by a preponderance of the evidence. It won't be easy because your dealing with a elderly lady vs a small child, it does help the defense that allegedly the death was not caused by the injuries due to the accident. Either way this is a very tragic story and really nobody wins.

    (Sorry I had to post the entire statute because it wouldn't link up).


    § 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes
    and bicycle or in-line skate paths. (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle
    or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line
    skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been
    provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a
    usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue
    interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left
    turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it
    unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to
    be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or
    moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians,
    animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or
    person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side
    within the lane.
    (b) Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates
    upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding
    bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a shoulder,
    bicycle or in-line skate lane, or bicycle or in-line skates path,
    intended for the use of bicycles or in-line skates may ride two or more
    abreast if sufficient space is available, except that when passing a
    vehicle, bicycle or person on in-line skates, or pedestrian, standing or
    proceeding along such shoulder, lane or path, persons riding bicycles or
    skating or gliding on in-line skates shall ride, skate, or glide single
    file. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates
    upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being
    overtaken by a vehicle.
    (c) Any person operating a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line
    skates who is entering the roadway from a private road, driveway, alley
    or over a curb shall come to a full stop before entering the roadway.
     

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