Five Questions About Children and Personal Injury Lawsuits in New Jersey
June 28, 2017
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain
The New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, Trigg, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC are dedicated to representing victims of personal injury.
However, in our personal lives, our friends often ask us questions about what happens if our children end up causing an accident.
Here are some of your questions with our responses:
1. Can I be sued in New Jersey if my child is negligent and injures someone else?
This is a question that is probably entering your head if your teenage kid is getting ready to drive. You’ve added your child to the insurance policy and trust him/her to drive safely, but you never know.
If your child is involved in a car crash while driving your car and is responsible for injuring another person, there is a good chance that you and your child will be sued. The lawsuit will probably allege that you were negligent in entrusting the car to your child and that you are automatically negligent as the car owner who gave the car to your child.
You will notify your insurance company and an attorney will be hired to represent you. Hopefully, your insurance limit will have enough money to cover the injuries to the victim and leave your assets safe.
2. Will my car insurance cover my child if he/she took the car without permission when the crash happened?
In New Jersey, the courts will try to make sure that you and your child is covered by your car insurance. This applies even if your child took the car without permission.
In French v Hernandez, the Court ruled “… once the owner gives his vehicle’s keys to another person for a drive, the courts ordinarily find coverage … unless … conduct amounts to theft or the like …”
3. Can my child sue me in New Jersey if I was responsible for their injuries in a car accident?
New Jersey law makes parents immune from liability for some injuries to their children. Parents cannot be sued for their children’s injuries if it happened as a result of normal parenting. It must relate to child rearing.
However, your kids can sue you if you mistakenly drive through a red light and cause an accident that injures your kids in the back seat.
Why? Because the dangerous driving had nothing to do with parenting and child rearing.
4. My child is a.. child. How can he/she be sued in New Jersey?
If your child is under 7 years of age, it is presumed that he/she was not negligent (unless the other side shows that your child had the experience and capacity to know that his/her actions was dangerous)
If your child is 7 or older, he/she is expected to act with the same care as other children of her age, judgment, and experience. If not, he/she might be negligent.
5. What do I do when a lawsuit is served on me?
Notify your insurance company immediately.