Personal Injury Lawsuits: Even Kids are Doing it Now

Gone are the days when kids could roughhouse without bringing the legal system into it, but a New Jersey court is attempting to give it some context.

The case revolved around a sports injury sustained by a 12-year-old boy playing lacrosse. His arm was broken when an 11-year-old player crashed into him, and the family of the injured player sued the 11-year-old for it. It was the first case of child-on-child sports injury, and the court ruling set a precedent for similar future cases in the state.

According to the court, the plaintiff had to show that the defendant (the 11-year-old) acted in an unreasonably reckless way out of keeping with the activity they were engaged in. Some aggressive behavior is expected in a team sport like lacrosse, so the operative word here is reasonable conduct.

Furthermore, the judge considered that child-on-child sports injuries could not be judged on the same basis as when adults (in sports) are concerned. In the court’s opinion, it would be “be unfair to hold children who engage in such sporting activities to the same expectations and standards of conduct as adult athletes.”

The court ruled that the family of the injured lacrosse player had no grounds to sue the 11-year-old because his conduct was not found to be unreasonably reckless. That is a distinct relief for all young players who may hesitate to participate in sports with the risk of personal injury liability hanging over their heads.

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