Minor's Torts

What is rule regarding minor’s responsibility for their torts? I know what 12 O.S. 2017 says about capacity to be sued and being defended through Guardian ad litem?

Answer: A fourteen year-old would be responsible for his negligence. A child under 7 is incapable of negligence as a matter of law. Between 7 and 14, they are presumed incapable but may be shown to be responsible for their damages by proving their knowledge and capacity to know the nature and consequences of their actions. See Conner v. Houtman, 1960 OK 52, 350 P.2d 311 and Martin v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 1996 OK 55, 918 P.2d 49.

The parents are not liable for the torts of the minor except under limited circumstances. See: 76 O.S. Sec. 1.1: “Neither parent or child is answerable, as such, for the act of the other, except as otherwise specifically provided by law.”

If a motor vehicle is involved, you may be able to impose liability on the parents through 47 O.S. Sec. 6-107(B): “B. Any negligence or willful misconduct of a person under the age of eighteen (18) years when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway with the knowledge and consent of the person who signed the application for the restricted license shall be imputed to the person who has signed the application. Such person shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages caused by such negligence or willful misconduct, except as otherwise provided in subsection C of this section.”

The minor will be an insured under either the parents’ homeowners policy or motor vehicle policy as a relative residing in the household.

Also, under 23 O.S. Sec. 10 A, “[t]he state or any county, city, town, municipal corporation or school district, or any person, corporation or organization, shall be entitled to recover damages in a court of competent jurisdiction from a parent or parents of any child under the age of eighteen (18) years when the child is living with the parent or parents at the time of the act, and commits any criminal or delinquent act resulting in bodily injury to any person or damage to or larceny of any property, real, personal or mixed, belonging to the state or a county, city, town, municipal corporation, school district, person, corporation or organization. The amount of damages awarded pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00).”

While there will be no coverage for the child under that statute because of the intentional nature of the act, the parents are usually covered up to the $2,500 under the parents’ homeowners coverage.