Tort Law

4-Year-Old Girl Can Be Sued for Bicycle Injury, Judge Rules

Corrected: A New York judge is permitting a lawsuit against a 4-year-old girl accused of racing her bicycle equipped with training wheels and striking an elderly woman.

Judge Paul Wooten of Manhattan noted that Juliet Breitman was close to 5 years old when she and another 4-year-old friend allegedly raced their bikes and struck 87-year-old Claire Menagh, the New York Times reports. Menagh broke her hip and died three months later of unrelated causes.

Wooten said that children under age 4 are presumed incapable of negligence, but there is no bright-line rule protecting children who are older from suit.

Menagh’s estate sued both children and their mothers, who were said to be supervising the children. Wooten ruled on a motion to dismiss by Juliet Breitman’s lawyer.

Wooten wrote that there was no evidence of Juliet’s “lack of intelligence or maturity” or anything to “indicate that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman.”

The New York Law Journal (sub. req.) was first to report the ruling.

Lasted updated at 10:22 a.m. Nov. 1, 2010 after the New York Times issued a correction to state that Menagh died three months later of unrelated causes.

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