Contributory Negligence of a Minor in North Carolina

A 10 year old North Carolina boy was hit by a Minnesota driver at an Interstate rest-stop, according to KMSP-TV Minnesota. This type of case raises questions about the liability of minors. If a child runs into a street without looking, is the child partly or fully responsible? If the child was partly responsible (contributorily negligent), then the child may not be able to recover even if the driver was negligent.

Children don’t have the same smarts and judgments as adults. Children playing ball will instinctively run into the street to get the ball without thinking about oncoming traffic.

North Carolina divides the child negligence question into three age groups:

  • Children under 7 years old. North Carolina holds that children are absolutely incapable of negligence – no matter how smart they may be.
  • Children 7 to 14 years old. Children in this age group are presumed to be incapable of contributory negligence. This presumption is rebuttable. Children in this age group are supposed to act like other children in this age group. If it can be shown the child acted irresponsibly for his age, then the child can be contributorily negligent – thus losing his/her claim.
  • Children 14 to 18 years old. Here the child is presumed to be capable of negligence. This presumption is rebuttable – meaning evidence can show the child was still incapable of negligence because he was below the normal range of responsibility for his/her age.

Some of the factors used for the latter two groups (children 7-14 and children 14-18) are the child’s intelligence, the child’s experience and the child’s actual age.

How our firm can help

Anyone who has been in an accident because of someone’s carelessness or because of a worker’s compensation case, and who has received injuries, needs to have legal help. If a child was involved you need to know the child’s responsibilities. Contact Norfolk Injury Lawyer Joe Miller at or 888-694-1671 for more information on how to proceed, how to work with your doctors, and whether you might have a significant recovery coming your way.