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Can You Sue a Minor for Personal Injury in Illinois?

When you suffer an injury due to the negligent or intentional actions of another party, Illinois affords you the right to hold that party accountable for the financial and psychological losses you suffer. But what happens when the at-fault individual is a minor? While you will generally still be eligible to recover damages, it is crucial to understand what differences apply when your injuries are the fault of a child. 

Negligent Versus Intentional Acts

When considering a personal injury claim against a minor, it’s essential to distinguish between negligent and intentional acts. Negligence occurs when a child fails to exercise reasonable care, leading to an accident or injury. For example, if a child is playing with a ball and accidentally throws it through a neighbor’s window, causing injury, this would be considered a negligent act. On the other hand, if a child deliberately throws a rock at someone with the intention of causing harm, this would be an intentional act.

According to the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law, parents of children from the ages of 12 to 18 are automatically deemed liable for damages arising from their children’s intentional acts. However, if a minor’s actions are found to be intentional, Illinois caps the maximum amount their parents must pay at $20,000. 

It is worth noting that the parents of emancipated minors cannot be held responsible for their child’s deliberate or negligent actions. In such cases, the claimant should file a claim or lawsuit against the minor themselves.

Automobile Accidents

If a 16- or 17-year-old child with a valid driver’s license causes an automobile accident that results in personal injury, the victim may be able to seek compensation from the driver, even though they are a minor. The injured individual can file a claim against the young driver’s insurance policy. If a settlement cannot be reached, the claimant can file a lawsuit against the minor driver. 

Other Accidents

Minors can also be held liable for accidents and injuries that occur outside of the context of automobile accidents. For example, if a child is engaging in a dangerous activity, such as skateboarding in a crowded area, and causes injury to another person, the victim may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the child or their parents. The success of such a claim will depend on factors such as the child’s age, the nature of the activity, and whether the child’s actions were reasonably foreseeable.

However, in Illinois, children under the age of seven are presumed to be incapable of negligence and, therefore, cannot be held liable for accidents or injuries they cause. 

Contact a Belleville, Illinois, Personal Injury Attorney Today

When your life has been derailed by an injury, getting back on track depends on recovering the compensation you need, regardless of who is at fault. If a minor is the at-fault party in your claim, the seasoned personal injury attorneys at Cook, Bartholomew, Cook & Jones, LLP can help you understand your rights and options. With over 150 years of combined experience fighting for injured Illinoisans, we have what it takes to secure the favorable result you deserve. Call us today at (618) 235-3500 or contact us online for a free consultation with a Belleville personal injury lawyer.