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30/10/2010 // INFO 2 Comments

Keep your kids under control – court rules 4 year old cyclist can be sued


Bicycling and the Law

A judge in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan has held that a four year old is capable of being found guilty of negligence whilst cycling.

The impact of this judgment could be felt further afield than the preppy front gardens of Long Island as decisions in common law jurisdictions, such as in this case, are persuasive in English courts.

So, do parents on this side of the Atlantic need to worry? Do we need to keep an even closer eye on our children whilst they are playing? It’s not for us to say.

However, on a day when the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that a police officer who killed a cyclist while responding to an emergency call will not face prosecution or disciplinary proceedings the feeling could be that all judicial decisions are going against cyclists, regardless of whether they’re in the UK or US.

Justice Paul Wooten stated that a 1928 case established the principle that a child under four is not capable of negligence. The child in question was almost five years old and accordingly there was a case to answer. In addition the judge held that a child’s capacity for negligence was not affected by her parents’ supervision. A child aged four would be considered negligent if they ran into a busy road even if their parents were supervising and telling them not to run into the road, according to Justice Wooten.

Whether or not Justice Paul Wooten was a family man with any experience of four years olds was not reported.

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2 comments [leave one]
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  • Kim October 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    This is really a story about the total lack of universal health care in the US of A. The reason that 87 year old woman need to sue a 4 year old child, is that this was the only way she could pay for the treatment she needed. It goes without saying this should never happen in a civilised country, but then that is what you get in the “land of the free”, it is just a part of their big society.


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