It is not that all uncommon for 10 year old boys to engage in a sword fight with plastic rulers on the sidewalk while walking home from school. But who is held at fault when one of the rulers snaps and a piece of the ruler goes into the eye of one of the boys, blinding him. Can the boy be held at fault?
There are a number of considerations when determining negligence on the part of a child. Children can be contributorily negligent depending on their age. Children under the age of 7 cannot be held contributory negligent under the “tender age doctrine. Children between the ages of 7 through 14 can be contributorily negligent depending on their age, capacity, intelligence and experience. Minors over the age of 14 may also be contributorily negligent. However, the minor’s actions must be judged by an adult standard, which takes into consideration the minor’s intelligence and experience. Another issue is whether or not the accident is a reasonable foreseen outcome of the activity. Did either of the boys understand the potential risk involved in the activity?
Parents can be negligent for a wrongful act that their child has committed. However, parents cannot be negligent of that merely because of their parent-child relationship. Lott v. Strang, 727 N.E.2d 407,409 (Ill. App. Ct. 2000). Parents may be liable if they failed to adequately control or supervise their children. Parents maybe also negligent in supervising their children if the injured party is able to show 1) the parents were aware of prior incidents or instances that put them on notice that action was likely to occur and 2) the parents had the opportunity to control the child.