Mesa AZ | Negligence and children in the context of the law
In most respects, the law treats children differently than adults. For example, a minor who commits a crime will typically face trial in juvenile court, which has standards and practices specially catered to persons less than 18 years of age.
Personal injury law also has special standards for children. If a person brings a claim in Arizona alleging that a child has negligently caused an injury, the judge will read the jury something similar to the following instructions before the jury decides the case:
– A child is not held to the same standard of care as an adult.
– A child who does not use the degree of care that is ordinarily exercised by children of the same age, intelligence, knowledge, and experience under the existing circumstances is negligent.
– An adult must anticipate the ordinary behavior of children, and that children might not exercise the same degree of care for their own safety as adults.
Notice the instructions are divided into three distinct parts. I will discuss each one individually.
A child is not held to the same standard of care as an adult.
In most cases, the term “standard of care” will refer to the general duty of care, which requires all individuals to exercise the care that a reasonable person would under the circumstances. This is an objective standard to be used when determining negligence. If a person acts in an unreasonable manner under the circumstances, thus breaching the duty of care, he or she can be found negligent and responsible for whatever injuries his or her breach caused.
This first section clearly removes children from the general standard of care that would apply to adults. A jury is not to compare a child’s actions to a reasonable adult’s when determining if the child acted negligently.
A child who does not use the degree of care that is ordinarily exercised by children of the same age, intelligence, knowledge, and experience under the existing circumstances is negligent.
This section lays out the standard of care that a jury must apply to a child. Notice it is very specific. A child must exercise the same care that another child of the same age, intelligence, knowledge, and experience would under the circumstances. A child who breaches this duty can be found negligent.
Per this section, the jury must compare “apples to apples,” so to speak. If a jury has a 10-year-old child in front of it, it must compare the actions of that child to those of a hypothetical child of the same age, intelligence, knowledge and experience under the same circumstances. If the jury finds that the child in front of it did not act as the other child would, it can then find the child negligent.
An adult must anticipate the ordinary behavior of children, and that children might not exercise the same degree of care for their own safety as adults.
This section actually adds a specific duty of care to adults. This duty is especially applicable to parents of children. If an adult breaches the duty found in this section by not anticipating the ordinary behavior of a child, he or she can be found negligent.
This adds another dimension to a personal injury claim arising from the actions of a child. Perhaps the child did not act negligently according to the special duty of care for children discussed above. However, the child’s parent may have been negligent for failing to anticipate that the child would do what the child did.
I hope that this overview has been helpful to anyone seeking information on this topic. However, there is a lot more to know. If you are preparing for a personal injury claim that involves a child, the help of an experienced personal injury attorney will be very beneficial.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you or someone you know wishes to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney regarding Mesa AZ|Negligence and Children or other personal injury matters, call 480.461.5300.