Discipline

Child sued over bike crash that hurt elderly woman

Nov. 1, 2010 at 4:12 PM ET

How young is too young to be sued? How about 4 years old?

A judge in New York recently ruled that a young girl can be sued for negligence after a 2009 accident: According to the lawsuit, two four-year-olds were racing their bicycles on a busy New York City street, while their mothers supervised, when they hit an 87-year-old woman named Claire Menaugh. She broke her hip and required surgery, and died three months later of unrelated causes.

Menaugh’s estate sued both the mothers and their children for negligence. One of the families tried to have their child dismissed from the litigation, claiming she was too young to be sued – noting that her bike still had training wheels. But Justice Paul Wooten of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled otherwise, writing that anyone older than 4 is legal fair game.

According to The New York Times, the judge wrote there was no evidence that the 4-year-old defendant lacked “intelligence of maturity” and said that any “reasonably prudent child” would know not to engage in risky behavior with or without a parent present.

Do you have a “reasonably prudent” 4-year-old? Do you think children should be held liable for bike-riding accidents, or their parents --  or no one at all? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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