Sports Law • Risk Management

October 29, 2010: 4 Year Old Cyclist a Defendant in Lawsuit

A bizarre lawsuit came to my attention today. An injured elderly woman sued a 4 year old girl, claiming that the little girl was negligent for running her down while riding a bicycle with training wheels. The court actually is allowing the lawsuit to proceed, despite the young age of the defendant. I doubt that this court ruling will result in a rash of lawsuits against little kids. However, it does serve as a warning to parents and youth coaches that supervision of children playing sports is crucial.

A number of blogs ago, I discussed my observation that a lifeguard was texting and that parents charged with supervising their children were also engrossed in their electronics and so appeared not to be paying attention to their kids. What about the parent or coach that is actually watching the kids, but does nothing to prevent their unruly or unsafe behavior? Yesterday, I watch two young children run into a Walgreens at full speed. Although their mother admonished the one that she could catch up with, the children’s behavior could have caused injury to someone. If an elderly person was on the other side of the door that the kid’s ran into, the person could have been knocked down. There is certainly a reason why most swimming pools have rules against running and horseplay. Although parents of rambunctious kids are probably exhausted by constantly having to remind the kids to slow down and be careful, many of them give up this quest.

When an accident happens, a lawsuit could very well be brought against a kindergartner who is just having fun and being a normal active kid. Perhaps the elderly should pay attention to the kids and stay out of their speeding paths? We have to let children run around without fear of being sued. On the other hand, there should be reasonable supervision. Let’s strike a balance, but please don’t sue the little ones. They’ll have enough of that when they become adults.