Child pedestrians are especially vulnerable in motor vehicle collisions due to their size and potential ignorance of safety precautions. They may only observe a different, more limited, and subjective standard of care than adults. They are expected only to exercise the degree of care of children of like age, experience, and intelligence. Therefore, children are not held to the same degree of care as an adult but are chargeable only with such ordinary care for their safety as a prudent person of like age, intelligence, and experience would exercise under similar circumstances.
A child’s negligence is a question of fact. The jury has to look into the child’s age, mental capacity, and experience.
Accordingly, the law has imposed a relaxed standard of care for child pedestrians. However, parents are still required to exercise the ordinary care expected of adults.
The law tends to relax the duty of care for child pedestrians. It does not expect a child to think the same way as an adult; thus, the level of care expected from them should be commensurate with someone of their age, experience, and intelligence. For example, a child may not be negligent even if they run in front of an oncoming car.
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A supervising parent is not subject to the same relaxed standard of care as child pedestrians. The duty to exercise ordinary care to protect a child from motor vehicle injuries remains. For instance, a father may be deemed negligent in allowing his son to ride his tricycle on a sidewalk when an ordinance prohibits that action.
Parental negligence in a child pedestrian car accident case is usually a question of fact – meaning this is something that an auto accident lawyer must prove in court. The finding of negligence may vary depending on the circumstances.
A driver may file a cross-complaint for comparative indemnity against a negligent parent supervising a child. It is a scenario where both parties claim damages from each other. Applying the principle of comparative negligence, the finding of a parent’s negligence will not prevent the victims from recovering damages. The amount, however, may be reduced by the court, especially for those involving medical expenses.