Court: Girl, 4, Can Be Sued for Negligence

Girl seriously injured elderly woman while racing bike
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2010 3:43 AM CDT
Updated Oct 29, 2010 7:58 AM CDT
Court: Girl, 4, Can Be Sued for Negligence
The girl's lawyer argued that she was not engaged in an adult activity and was too young to be held liable.   (Shutterstock)

A 4-year-old girl who seriously injured an elderly woman in a bicycle accident was old enough to know better and can thereby be sued for negligence, a Manhattan judge decided yesterday. The 87-year-old woman fractured her hip after being hit by the girl and a friend who were racing bikes with training wheels on a city sidewalk. The woman died three weeks later, and her estate filed a lawsuit against the children and their parents. The judge didn't determine liability in the case—only that the girl can be sued.

There was no evidence that the girl lacked intelligence or maturity, and nothing to “indicate that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman," the judge wrote, citing cases from as far back as 1928. He decided that the girl's mother, who was present at the time, didn't encourage her daughter's risky behavior, and that she played no "active role" in the incident, the New York Times reports. “A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” the judge wrote. (More lawsuit stories.)

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