Can I Sue a Minor for Negligence in Maryland?

It’s already a known fact that you can get damages for the negligent actions of an adult that causes you harm. But what happens when the responsible party is a minor? Can you sue for negligence or are you legally barred?

The “minority” legal concept is one that most people are familiar with. At some point, you’ve heard that children and teenagers below 18-year-old are “minors.” It means that the government, parents, and guardians protect them. Even when they commit an offense, they do not get the same treatment as adults.

The primary reason for the above is that the law sees children as people without adults’ mental capacity or competence. However, as a general rule, minors can be liable for civil wrongs the same as adults. This article examines whether you can successfully sue a minor for negligence in Maryland. If you have any questions, contact our personal injury lawyers at Pinder Plotkin, LLC.

What Is the Liability of Minors in Car Accidents? 

The first thing to note is that unlike other areas of law, like criminal law and contract, tort law does not automatically treat minors with a special status. Hence, if a minor commits a civil wrong, they are liable for their actions. In a car accident involving a teenager, the teen is liable for damages to the victim as long as they are the fault party.

Maryland law provides that a crash victim can sue a minor for negligence in auto tort cases. The difficulty in suing a minor comes in getting actual damages. The preceding is because minors are still dependent on their parents or guardians. Ordinarily, since they do not work, the inference is that they do not have the money to pay for damages.

This is where auto insurance policies come in. Maryland law mandates that all drivers, irrespective of their age, have auto insurance liability coverage. In the event of a crash, the victim can file an insurance claim and get a settlement.

Furthermore, where the minor does not have auto insurance coverage, if they drove a car owned by their parent or guardian, the parent or guardian will pay for damages. This is because the law expects the parent or guardian to list their mobile minor under their auto insurance coverage.

Even if the minor is not listed, the parent or guardian’s coverage would still pay the compensation. However, there is a caveat. For the parent or guardian’s insurer to pay for the damages caused by a minor, the teen must have their permission to drive the crashed vehicle.

What Is the Liability of Minors for Intentional Negligence? 

It’s one thing for parents to pay for the unintentional acts of their minors, like a car accident. It’s another for them to pay for intentional acts of negligence like intentionally instigating their dog to bite a neighbor. Generally, parents are not vicariously liable for the random international acts of their children.

Unless the injured party can show the parent or guardian’s direct involvement in the harm caused by their child or ward, they are not liable. Thus, it would be impossible to bring a successful tort claim against the parent or guardian. The only option available to the injured party in this instance is a judgment for criminal restitution.

Maryland law allows for the injured victim to ask for criminal restitution against the minor. If the court grants it, the minor’s parent or guardian would pay for the direct expenses resulting from the assault. The maximum amount you can get for restitution is $10,000 per incident.

How Does a Negligence Lawsuit Work Against a Minor? 

As a general rule of law, minors are persons without legal capacity. It means they can’t sue or be sued. Under Maryland law, in a lawsuit against a minor, the parent or guardian will defend the action. If the minor lacks both, the minor’s “next friend” will represent them.

If the parent or guardian fails to represent the minor, Maryland law allows the court to order the parent or guardian to do so. If none exists, and there is no next friend, the court will appoint an attorney to defend the minor. Lastly, a parent can settle a lawsuit on behalf of a minor without the court’s approval. But if it is the next friend, the court must approve such a settlement.

Contact Pinder Plotkin, LLC, Today! 

Were you injured in a car accident or any other incident by a minor? You are entitled to compensation. At Pinder Plotkin, LLC, our personal injury attorneys will ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review.

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