If my child injures or kills someone as the result of negligence while riding an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), am I liable for that death or injury?
Below is one of the common questions many clients have when they first contact Zimmet & Zimmet. The answer may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don’t find the answer here, or simply want more information, you should contact us for answers to your specific questions. Our initial consultation is free of charge.
A: Maybe. In Florida, parents are not held liable for the injuries their children cause just based on the parent’s status as parents. To be liable in an injury lawsuit, parents must share some of the blame. Courts have consistently found blame and therefore liability for parents if three broad types of situations:
- When a parent gives a child or lets a child use a device or other thing which, because of the child’s young age, immature judgment, or lack of experience, may, therefore, be dangerous to others.
- When a parent has knowledge of a child’s wrongful act and either gives consent, or directs or condones the act.
- When a parent did not control a child’s wrongful behavior, even though the parent knew or should have known that the probable result of the wrongful behavior would be an injury to another person.
In the case of a child injuring or killing another person as the result of negligence while riding an ATV, we’re dealing with situation 1 where the parent let the child use a device that could be dangerous to others if the child did not possess the skill, judgment, experience or age to operate it safely. Those questions are questions that only a jury can answer and are no answerable by a lawyer. We can give counsel based on our experience and knowledge, but every jury is different.