Most clients presenting with a personal injury case have been injured due to the negligence of an adult. The most common of these cases is that of a person injured through careless automobile driving.
But what if someone is injured due to the negligence of a minor? For example, what if a 10 year old prankster places rocks on railroad tracks which cause a train to derail, seriously injuring some of the passengers?
The authoritative textbook on negligence law is the Restatement of Torts, 3rd Edition. On the question of childhood negligence, it states:
“All American jurisdictions accept the idea that a person’s childhood is a relevant circumstance in negligence determinations. Jurisdictions divide, however, on the best way to take childhood into account”
The authors go on to state that a minority of states have a specified age, below which it is presumed that a child is too young to appreciate the consequences of his negligence. However, the majority of states do not use a specific age, but instead call on the trial judge to address each situation on a case by case basis.
The Idaho Supreme Court has not definitively ruled on this issue. However, in one case it held that a nine year old child could be held liable for negligence.