To Hell in a Bicycle Basket: Judge Allows 4-Year-Old Girl to be Sued for Bike Accident

You can’t make this crap up:

New York State Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten says Juliet Breitmen, a NYC girl who was four years old at the time of the accident, was old enough to be sued after hitting an elderly woman.

Breitman and Jacob Kohn, also four at the time of the incident, are accused of hitting 87-year-old Claire Menagh while racing their bicycles (with training wheels) on the sidewalk in April 2009. According to the lawsuit, Menagh was ‘seriously and severely injured’ and suffered a hip fracture that required surgery (she has since passed away from unrelated causes).

The suit, filed by Menagh’s estate, accuses the two children and their mothers (who were supervising the children at the time) of negligence. Justice Wooten said there’s no evidence the children were too young to understand “the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman.”

Those kids’ allowances are going to be garnished but good. What’s sad is that this “news” is getting more publicity (here, here, here and here) than the almost daily killing of a cyclist by a motor vehicle, sometimes with partial intent, and me thinks it’s likely (however unfortunate) these kids and/or their mothers will receive a harsher penalty than the vast majority of homicidal drivers out there.

Comments

habebe - 11/03/10 - 4:12pm

What if Islamist were cyclist? They would just blow people up for doing dumb things with a car. “you cut me off, I blow you up!”

JohnH - 11/04/10 - 12:47am

Agree. In this case, justice can and should proceed in this case of negligent death.

As far as legal protection for cyclists goes, my modest proposal is that liability laws be changed to reflect those in The Netherlands. Over here, a motorist is presumed guilty in the event of a collision with a cyclist or pedestrian. The result is that motorists are very careful to look for cyclists, give them wide berth, and in general drive with far more civility than most American drivers. Of course, this is partially do to the mellow Dutch personality, but it seems they are on to something.

Bird flipping, road raging, anti-cyclist Americans need to take a chill pill. Changing the accident liability equation to favor non-motorists would be a good step in that effort. Motorists need to be reminded that it is they who are operating the lethal weapon. With great power comes great responsibility.

It would be interesting to hear from other cyclists who are also motorists. As a motorist, would they be willing to live under such a change in law?

Tyler (Editor) - 11/04/10 - 8:57am

Absolutely, but it would fly in the face of the whole ‘innocent until proven guilty’ basis upon which our justice system is founded…and once one exception is made, the floodgates open. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to flip flop this one, but it would open a Pandora’s Box.

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