<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Arial, Helvetica, Verdana">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by peterson37:
My 14 year old daughter was spending the night at a friend's house. The freind's mother left the kids home alone until 0200, and left her keys in her car. While the mother was gone, the children took the car out for a ride. Initially the freind was driving, the freind finally talked my daughter into getting behind the stearing wheel. When she did, she drove the car into the ditch. The mother now wants us to pay for the repairs. What are we required to pay, and how legal was it for her to leave the children unsupervised?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
All because keys are left in a car, does not mean that your child is absolved from knowing "right from wrong." It's extremely stupid for an adult to leave keys in a car, because such a circumstance causes an "attractive nuisance." In that instance, if your child was hurt or killed, then there would be comparative negligence on the part of the vehicle owner.
However, since you have only said that your daughter "drove the car into a ditch" then there's the matter of property damage.
Minors (under age 18) are civilly liable for their own tortious conduct, but certain legal principles apply to measure and limit a minor's liability. For purposes of negligence liability, minors are not held to the same standard of conduct as adults. Rather, they are required to exercise only that degree of care ordinarily exercised by minors of like maturity, intelligence and capacity under similar circumstances. However, minors engaged in activities normally engaged in only by adults and requiring adult qualifications (e.g., operating motor vehicles) are held to the standard of care of an adult under similar circumstances. [See Prichard v. Veterans Cab Co. (1965) 63 Cal.2d 727, 732, 47 Cal.Rptr. 904, 907]. The parent-child relationship does not itself render parents vicariously liable for their minor child's torts, but there are recognized theories of liability against parents, and because of that, parental liability may lie under any of the following circumstances:
1. The parent has knowledge of the child's prior misconduct;
2. The parent signed the child's driver's license application or the child drives the parent's car with permission;
3. The child is guilty of willful misconduct;
4. The child was given access to firearms;
5. The child defaced another's property with graffiti; or
6. The child is convicted of a crime and ordered to pay restitution to the victim.
It's numbers one, three, and / or six that you have to be concerned about with regard to payment of damages. But, if there is no conviction of a crime, then the car owner's only alternative is to sue your daughter.
Okay, final note. Since it is also negligent to leave keys in a car, causing an attactive nuisance, then I would counter argue, and perhaps cross-complaint against the owner, for the personal injuries your daughter is suffering from, right? But for the keys being in the car, and causing such an attractive nuisance, would your daughter be needing doctor's treatments? Is there a clue here?
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[This message has been edited by I AM ALWAYS LIABLE (edited June 12, 2000).]