After a 7-year-old riding a bike collided with a van, he got a bill from a collections agency for $650. After the local news team got involved, the company said they were dropping the matter as “it wasn’t their policy to send notices to little 7-year-olds.” They’re also giving him $100 for a new bike. Aw. [KPHO]

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  1. SVreader says:

    Don’t mean to be the “mean” person but…so parents aren’t liable for damages caused by their kids? The price seems steep, but seriously?

    Then a few days later, the driver called with an estimate — $900 for the tire and paint.
    “And I’m going, ‘$900, are you kidding me? For what?’” she said.

    Yeah, when my car was rear-ended, the driver didn’t want to pay after hearing the estimate either.

    If my vehicle was damaged by a kid on a bike (even if this way mysteriously the bike’s doing, as suggested in “the bike he was riding hit the van”), I’d want to be reimbursed, even if the kid was little and tow-headed and adorable and wanted to be a superhero when he grew up.

  2. SVreader says:

    @svreader: *this was

  3. SpenceMan01 says:

    I agree that the driver had the right to be reimbursed, but not after they waived that right by agreeing that nobody was at fault. The article even quoted a police officer as such, so there’s no getting out of it. You can’t say “Oh that’s ok, no worries” and then turn around and say “By the way, you owe me $900″. It doesn’t work like that.

  4. unklegwar says:

    Parents absolutely should be responsible for damages caused by their kids. It’s up to the parents to decide if they want to pass the expense on to the kid in the form of chores, punishment, etc.

    Accidental damage costs just as much to repair as intentional damage, why the driver and his insurance should foot the bill for something caused by her kid is beyond me. Her kid, her responsibility.

  5. unklegwar says:

    PS. This is NOT the way to teach responsibility, mom.

  6. Anitra says:

    Parents are liable for damages their kids cause, but the phrase “no one was at fault” is key here. It’s extremely rare for a bicyclist to be declared “at fault”, and unless they are, they shouldn’t have to pay.

    Having been in a couple of bike-on-car accidents myself, I wonder just how fast the van and the kid were going to cause $900 in damage to the van.

  7. sonichghog says:

    I thought the article stated that Nobody was at fault.

    If nobody was at fault, then why would he pay.

    I have to imagine that the kid rode into the van, but the van was probably parked illegally or something. So they cant place fault at either party. But I dont know.

  8. SVreader says:

    @SpenceMan01: Does saying “don’t worry about it” completely void your right to reimbursement, though? Say you’re in a minor accident, think nothing too big happened, and later realize the damage was more than you thought?

    Also, it sounds like it was insurance, not the driver, who was more actively trying to get the money. He probably asked her when the repair costs were more than he had predicted, she said no, he probably then asked insurance to cover it, and they went after who caused the damage.

  9. B says:

    @AnitraSmith: The kid lost control of his bike and hit the van, he was clearly at fault.

  10. sonichghog says:

    @unklegwar: Actually it is. Don’t take responsibility for something that is NOT your fault.

  11. sonichghog says:

    @B: Thats not what the officer said. Why would he say it was not either partys fault.

    Hey, if the officer stated that it WAS the kids fault, then I would say have the parents pay.

  12. SVreader says:

    @sonichghog: Well, the mom says the officer said that, but it seems odd since there seems to be no disputing that he ran into the van. Maybe the officer said something comforting and she interpreted it that way? Or maybe like someone else said he was parked illegally or something. Who knows? Not much info in the article–it’s just geared towards, “They charged a little baby boy!!!”

  13. canerican says:

    Couldn’t they just split it?

    This kid is being taught good morals, if you damage something, you don’t have to fix it, you just get something for free! He is going to have a hard life if this is what his arents are teaching

  14. SVreader says:

    @svreader: Oops, like you said about the parking. Thought that was SpenceMann.

  15. MissPeacock says:

    @sonichghog: Yup. The bottom of my insurance card explicitly states that you are NEVER to admit fault during an accident.

  16. BrockBrockman says:

    Kids aren’t adults, and aren’t held to adult-standards when it comes to fault.

    But, I guess nobody on this site has ever crashed into something on their bike as a kid? Because, you know, 7-year olds should be expected to exercise amazing prowess on their bicycles and never crash into anything. Or they should just stay in all day and play with their X-Box 360s and comment on blogs.

    However, I think if there was actual, substantive damage to the van, then Mom should have to cover the costs and take it out of junior’s ass with a slipper.

  17. cef21 says:

    This is one of those places where people are often shocked to find out what the law actually says.

    In my state, parents are liable for their kid’s willful malicious or willful acts, up to $2k. If your kid was just negligent, that’s a different story — the parent has to also have been negligent. (Child drivers as a completely separate matter.)

    It’s possible to sue the kid him/herself. But, children rarely have much, if anything, in their own names. Not only that, but the rules for when a child is negligent are different than the rules for when an adult is negligent. Commonly, a kid 7 or younger just can’t be legally negligent.

    The net result is that kids, especially young kids, can cause a lot of accidental damage and whoever they harmed just has to suck it up.

    (This is not a thorough discussion of the matter. See your own lawyer to discuss your situation.)

  18. sonichghog says:

    I hope more comes out from this story. I would really like to know the reason why the officer said it was nobodys fault.

  19. iEddie says:

    Good job, Allstate. Not only did you waive the $650, you also gave them a $100 gift card for a new bike.

    The kid is the one who lost control of the bike and hit the van, so, in my opinion, the parents should be responsible. Maybe the law says different – that’s just my opinion.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The only reason they dropped the matter is because it got media attention. I’m willing to bet ($650) that if no one knew about this, Allstate would still be pursuing the collection.

  21. AD8BC says:

    @sonichghog: It is possible to have a vehicular accident with both parties being equally at fault. Although I cannot imagine a lopsided collision between the bicycle and the van being one of those situations, maybe it was?

    Maybe both the van driver and the kid were talking on a cellphone. Or maybe they both ran a stop sign at a 4 way. The article really didn’t say.

    Moral of the story, bicycles are dangerous. The kid should have been driving a large SUV.

  22. theblackdog says:

    I would be all for mom teaching the kid responsibility by making him pay for at least part of it (he’s only 7, $650 will seem like $1,000,000 to him) and I hope she had been planning it all along, but when the other driver says “Don’t worry about it” AFTER she makes the offer to pay damages, then turns around and demands payment, I’m less inclined to say to keep her or the kid on the hook for the damages.

  23. Did the driver decline as in, “Don’t worry about it” or did the driver decline as in, “I won’t accept payment for just the tire because there was paint damage too”?

    She offered to fix the tire but the estimate was for the tire and paint. He might have declined because of that or maybe she offered a specific dollar amount and he didn’t want to accept anything before getting an estimate.

  24. HAH! My comments are posting now! W00T!

  25. So the kid crashes his bike into a van, causes property damage that someone else has to pay for, and gets a $100 gift card for a bike???

    WTF?

    Bit of negative reinforcement, no?

  26. krom says:

    “Not at fault” is a determination that the insurance company/ies would have to make; not a police officer and not either party involved. Of course, most people and certainly most 7 year olds do not have bicycle insurance, which would put him at a disadvantage.

    Food for thought: Is the driver’s insurance company more, less, or equally likely to declare “not at fault” when it does not have to deal with another party’s insurance company?

    Now… Saying “Don’t worry about it” is, to me, a verbal agreement that you have absolved the other party of liability. That’s exactly what “don’t worry about it” is understood to mean — i.e. ‘You don’t have to worry about this being a problem for you.’

  27. erica.blog says:

    ad8bc: “The kid should have been driving a large SUV.”

    Thank you, good laugh :D

  28. guroth says:

    Perhaps the kid was riding on this bike to cause $900 in damage?

    [www.personaldebris.com]

  29. cef21 says:

    Krom –

    Well, ultimately, it comes down to what a court would say. And, both a police officer’s report and a statement like “Oh my god, I totally didn’t see the stop sign. It’s my fault” would be admissible. Insurance companies usually like to work things out between them because it’s a lot cheaper and easier than going to court. But, the fact that an insurance company says “You owe us $650″ does not mean that you actually DO owe that money.