Parent Failing to Control Child Results in Injury
I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.
Today’s question comes from a caller knocked down by a child on a bicycle. The caller was walking on a city sidewalk when an 8-year-old girl came from behind her on a bike and knocked the woman down, fracturing her shoulder. She wanted to know if she could sue the parents of the child.
Where a parent purchases a bicycle for a child, and the parent has knowledge that the child customarily operates it in a dangerous manner, for example, on a public sidewalk, and the child negligently strikes a pedestrian from the rear, the pedestrian likely will have a valid claim against the parents for the harm caused by being knocked to the ground and injured.
In such a case, where a parent has failed to control a child, it will be essential to prove that the parent:
(a) had knowledge that the child’s conduct was creating an unreasonable risk of harm to others, and
(b) had an opportunity to exercise control over the child.
In the caller’s case, the parent entrusted a bicycle which, although not inherently dangerous, was known to be likely used unreasonably to cause harm to others.
Permitting a child to use a thing or engage in an activity that the parent knows or should know is likely to result in the child harming others amounts to a legal wrong.
Suppose there is an ordinance against riding a bicycle on city sidewalks. Suppose further, the child’s parents told the child to ride on sidewalks or permitted the child to ride on sidewalks. Suppose further, the parents know the child had neither the experience nor the knowledge to safely operate and control the bicycle. In such a case, the child’s bike operation would constitute a menace and hazard to pedestrians lawfully using the sidewalk.
The parents of Dennis the Menace, who know Dennis does dangerous things that can harm others, can indeed be held legally responsible for the harm Dennis causes.
Suppose Dennis gets a hold of an unsecured gun, other weapons, or another inherently dangerous item. If Dennis hurts someone, the parents can be held liable.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”