Son hit by car while riding bike...

by Anna
(Wheaton, Illinois)

Our 16 yr old (does not have his driving license) was riding his bike to his Summer Day Camp, as he had been doing daily for 9 weeks. He was riding on the shoulder of a road against the traffic, as he did not know that he was to follow the same rules as cars have regarding what side of the road to ride on. At the intersection a car hit him.

He was taken by ambulance to the ER. Luckily he had only some cuts and bruises. The police told us that he was issued a warning for not riding on the other side of the road, riding with the traffic. The car that hit him was damaged (wind shield broken and a dent).

My question is, are we his parents liable for the car's damages? Even if he did not do this on purpose? Our son has IL State Health Insurance, as he was adopted from the State (he was issued this insurance until the age of 18). I am not sure if they cover this type of case.

Any information you can give us regarding liability and what to do in this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Son hit by car while riding bike...":

Anna (Wheaton, Illinois):

In the State of Illinois, a parent is not legally responsible for damage caused by their child, unless the child caused property damage or personal injuries as a direct result of his or her "willful or malicious acts." Read Illinois Parental liability statute here:
Illinois Parental Liability Statute, Section 740 ILCS 115

From the facts you present, there is no evidence of willful or malicious acts. As a result, while your son may be personally liable for the property damage or personal injuries he may have caused, it would require proof he was negligent, and that his negligence was the direct and proximate cause of such property damage or personal injuries.

If your son turns 18 within the Illinois statute of limitations period for the filing of a lawsuit, he may be sued for the property damage and injuries he may have caused. The statute of limitations period is 2 years in IL, and begins on the date of the accident.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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