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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Can I Sue a Child for Personal Injury in Indiana? | Negligent Supervision Doctrine

Most personal injury lawsuits in the United States involve adults, which is why there may be confusion when someone suffers injuries due to the actions of a child.

In such situations, it is crucial to understand the negligent supervision doctrine and the English common law adopted by the state to determine liability.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have a deep understanding of Indiana laws and can guide injured victims on their legal options. Those who have suffered injuries in Indianapolis, Indiana, should contact the experienced personal injury lawyer at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to learn more about their rights and personal injury cases involving children.

Can I Sue a Child for Personal Injury in Indiana?

Can I Sue a Child for Personal Injury in Indiana?

The civil justice system frequently exempts children from legal action, as under the law, a child is not mature enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. This means that the injured victim cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit against a child unless under certain circumstances.

Under personal injury law, there must be an element of negligence present for anyone to pursue civil action. Children under the age of four are too young to comprehend what actions might be construed as negligent, which is why all states shield them from legal responsibility.

The law labels children between the ages of 4 and 14 as incapable of being negligent. However, if the injured victim can prove that a reasonable child with a similar level of intelligence and experience would understand the nature of their conduct and the risk involved, they may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them.

In most personal injury cases against children, it is the parent's responsibility to pay for the damages caused to the injured parties. However, it is essential to note that the law holds minor children to a lower legal standard than adults.

Top personal injury lawyers can help navigate the intricacies of parental responsibility laws and guide the injured victim in recovering compensation.

Is the Child's Age Important in Determining Liability?

In Indiana, the parents are liable for their child's behavior until they reach the age of 18. However, in some states, the age of majority could be between 19 and 21 years old.

Can the Injured Parties Hold Parents Responsible for the Actions of Their Children?

There are parental responsibility laws that hold parents responsible for the actions of their children.

Under the Indiana Code Section 34-31-4, if a child causes serious injuries or damages to another individual, the affected party may be able to sue and recover compensation from the parent.

The idea behind holding parents responsible is that they have an obligation to supervise their children and ensure that they don't grow up to be negligent citizens. If a child harms another individual due to a parent's negligent supervision, the child's parents may be liable for the damages.

Parental liability could fall under vicarious liability, where an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees. The rules pertaining to parental liability may vary from one state to another, with certain jurisdictions limiting the amount of damages an injured party could recover from a parent. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has more information on parental responsibility laws in personal injury.

There are certain circumstances in which a parent might be responsible for the damages caused by their child, and these include the following:


A firearm could be an attractive nuisance that can attract children and teenagers. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure that all guns and weapons they own are out of their child's reach.

Car Accidents

If a parent owns a car, they must educate their child on the perils of reckless driving and discourage them from driving until they receive their license.

In case the child causes a car accident due to a parent's negligent supervision, the parent may be liable for the damages.

Under the Indiana Code Section 9-24-9-4, the child's parent must sign on the minor's permit or license application, which states that the child and the parent/guardian may be responsible for any damages caused by the minor's use of the motor vehicle.

When the child reaches the age of 18, the parents are no longer financially responsible for any damages caused.

Property Damage

If a child is reckless and causes serious damage to a property, their parents may be liable for the child's intentional misconduct.

Computer Crimes

In case a child commits computer crimes, which include fraud, revenge porn, and white-collar crimes, the child's parents may be liable for the offenses committed.

What Are the Restrictions to Parental Liability in Indiana?

Under Indiana law, three restrictions apply to parental liability, and these include the following:

  • The child is in the custody of their parents or guardians;

  • The child caused harm knowingly and recklessly; and

  • There is a $5,000 cap on non-economic damages.

An injured victim cannot pursue most of the non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. This can be a major part of the personal injury case, which can adversely affect the recovery amount.

Are Parents in Indiana Responsible for Their Child's Involvement in Gang Activities?

Section 2 of the Indiana Code Section 34-31-4 mentions that the parents or guardians may be liable for any bodily injuries or property damage caused by their child's involvement in criminal activities.

There are three conditions that must exist for the injured party to bring a civil action against the child's parents, and these are as follows:

  • The parents or guardians have custody of the child;

  • The child lives with their parents or guardians, and

  • The parents were negligent in preventing their child from joining a gang and carrying out criminal activities.

Common Law in Indiana Can Take Precedence

The personal injury law in Indiana pertaining to child injuries only applies to certain situations. However, common law can take precedence, allowing injured victims to pursue personal injury lawsuits against the child's parents or guardians.

Parents or guardians must take necessary action to curb their child's behavior if they know that they have the tendency to act in a way that could lead to property damage or cause harm to others.

Can the Parents Sue for Their Child's Injuries?

Can the Parents Sue for Their Child's Injuries?

A parent may be able to sue another party for their child's injury if they can establish the following four elements of negligence:

Parents may suffer from trauma after seeing their injured child, or they may face economic and non-economic damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress, among many others.

Under the child injury law, they can pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent party's insurance company to recover the damages incurred.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Are Ready to Deliver Justice and Recover Compensation!

Those who have suffered injuries due to negligent supervision or those whose children have suffered injuries due to another's negligence should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be eligible for compensation.


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