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Understanding Your Legal Rights: Can You Sue a Minor?

Posted on: September 18, 2023

PN Editor
September 18, 2023

Understanding Your Legal Rights: Can You Sue a Minor?

Key Takeaways:

  • Takeaway 1: Minors can be sued, but the process is more complex as they are not considered legally capable of making decisions for themselves.
  • Takeaway 2: When a minor is sued, their parent or legal guardian is usually named in the lawsuit to represent them.
  • Takeaway 3: The court requires a guardian ad litem, an adult who represents the minor’s interests during the legal proceedings.
  • Takeaway 4: Even if you win a lawsuit against a minor, collecting damages can be difficult as minors typically do not have significant assets.
  • Takeaway 5: The rules and procedures vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in your local laws.

Legal Age of a Minor in Houston, Texas

In the state of Texas, including Houston, a minor is considered to be anyone under the age of 18. This is consistent with most states across the United States. A minor becomes legally an adult on their 18th birthday and can be held fully accountable for their actions in a court of law.

However, it’s important to note that there are certain exceptions where minors can be tried as adults for severe crimes such as murder or sexual assault. These cases are usually determined by the severity of the crime and the judge’s discretion.

Exceptions to Legal Age

Texas law also allows for some exceptions where individuals under 18 can be treated as adults. For instance, if a minor gets married or joins the military, they may be considered legally an adult.

Laws Regarding Suing a Minor in Houston, TX

In general, a minor cannot be sued directly due to their legal status and inability to enter into contracts. However, there are instances when a lawsuit may proceed against them indirectly through their parents or legal guardians.

Suing Through Parents or Guardians

The parents or guardians of a minor could be held liable for damages caused by their child’s actions under certain circumstances. For example, if a child causes damage to someone else’s property while driving their parent’s car without permission.

The Family Purpose Doctrine

Under this doctrine, if a family member (including minors) causes an accident while driving a vehicle owned by another family member for family-related activities, then the owner of the vehicle could potentially be held responsible.

Legal Responsibility of Minors in Houston, TX

While minors in Houston are generally not held fully responsible for their actions due to their age and lack of maturity, they can still face consequences depending on the severity of their actions. This could include being held responsible for restitution or facing penalties within the juvenile justice system.


In some cases, a minor may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is a way of compensating the victim for any losses they have suffered as a result of the minor’s actions.

Initiating a Lawsuit Against a Minor in Houston, TX

To initiate a lawsuit against a minor in Houston, you would typically need to file a complaint against their parents or legal guardians. The process involves filing paperwork with the court and serving notice to the defendants.

Filing Paperwork

The initial paperwork filed with the court usually includes information about why you are suing, what damages you are seeking, and any evidence you have to support your claim.

Serving Notice

Once the paperwork is filed, it must be served to the defendants. This means that they must receive official notice of the lawsuit. In many cases, this involves having an adult who is not involved in the case deliver the documents directly to them.

Representation for Minors in Court in Houston, TX

In Houston, Texas, minors are entitled to legal representation when facing lawsuits. This is a critical aspect of the legal process as it ensures that the minor’s rights are protected and their interests are adequately represented. The attorney representing the minor will guide them through the complex legal proceedings and help them understand their rights and responsibilities.

The Role of Guardian Ad Litem

In some cases, a guardian ad litem may be appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the minor. This individual could be an attorney or a trained volunteer who has undergone extensive background checks. Their role is to provide an unbiased perspective on what would be in the best interest of the child throughout the lawsuit.

Suing a Minor Directly vs. Their Parents/Guardians in Houston, TX

When it comes to suing a minor in Houston, Texas, there are two main options: suing the minor directly or suing their parents or guardians. Each approach has its own set of considerations and potential outcomes.

Suing a Minor Directly

Suing a minor directly can be more complicated due to their age and lack of financial resources. However, if successful, any judgment obtained may potentially be enforceable once they turn 18 and start earning income.

Suing Parents/Guardians

On the other hand, suing parents or guardians typically involves proving that they were negligent or somehow contributed to their child’s actions leading to harm. If successful, parents or guardians would generally have more financial resources than minors for satisfying judgments.

Cases Where Minors Were Successfully Sued in Houston, TX

There have been several instances where minors were successfully sued in Houston, Texas. These cases often involve serious offenses such as personal injury claims resulting from car accidents or intentional torts like assault and battery.

Notable Cases

One notable case involved a minor who was sued for causing a car accident that resulted in serious injuries. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, holding the minor liable for damages. Another case involved a minor who was successfully sued for assault after a schoolyard fight led to significant injuries.

Damages Claimable When Suing a Minor in Houston, TX

When suing a minor in Houston, Texas, plaintiffs can claim various types of damages depending on the nature and severity of the harm caused by the minor’s actions. These may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.

Types of Damages

Medical expenses cover any costs related to medical treatment required due to the incident. Pain and suffering refer to any physical discomfort or emotional distress experienced as a result of the incident. Lost wages compensate for any income lost due to time off work for recovery. Property damage covers repair or replacement costs for any property damaged by the minor’s actions.

Necessity of Hiring an Attorney to Sue a Minor in Houston, TX

Given the complexity of legal proceedings involving minors, hiring an attorney is often necessary when suing a minor in Houston, Texas. An attorney can provide valuable guidance throughout the process and help ensure that your rights are protected.

Benefits of Hiring an Attorney

An attorney can help navigate through complex legal procedures, gather evidence supporting your claim, negotiate settlements with opposing parties, represent you in court if necessary and ensure that all legal documents are correctly filed within deadlines.

Consequences for Minors if Court Rules Against Them in Houston, TX

The consequences for minors if the court rules against them in Houston, Texas can be severe and long-lasting. Depending on the severity of the offense, a minor could face penalties ranging from probation to detention in a juvenile facility.


Probation is often the first step in the legal process for minors who have been found guilty of a crime. This may include regular check-ins with a probation officer, mandatory community service, and other restrictions.

Juvenile Detention

In more serious cases, a minor may be sentenced to time in a juvenile detention center. This can have significant impacts on their education and future opportunities.

Limitations on Recovery from Lawsuits Against Minors in Houston, TX

In Houston, Texas there are certain limitations on recovery from lawsuits against minors. These limitations are put in place to protect minors from excessive financial burden that could impact their future.

Financial Limitations

The amount of money that can be recovered from a lawsuit against a minor is typically limited. This is to ensure that the minor’s future financial stability is not unduly compromised.

Property Seizure Restrictions

In addition to financial limitations, there are also restrictions on property seizure when it comes to lawsuits against minors. In most cases, a minor’s property cannot be seized as part of a judgment.

Timeline for Settling Lawsuits Against Minors in Houston, TX

The timeline for settling lawsuits against minors in Houston can vary depending on several factors including the complexity of the case and whether or not it goes to trial.

Preliminary Hearings

The first step in the process is typically a preliminary hearing. This is where the charges against the minor are formally presented and a plea is entered.

Trial and Sentencing

If the case goes to trial, this can significantly extend the timeline. Following a trial, there will be a sentencing hearing where the judge will determine the appropriate punishment for the minor.

Enforcement of Judgments on Minors Once They Become Adults in Houston, TX

In Houston, Texas, judgments against minors can be enforced once they become adults. This means that if a minor was found guilty of an offense and ordered to pay damages or fines, these payments could still be required once they reach adulthood.

Continued Financial Obligations

Once a minor becomes an adult, they may still be required to fulfill any financial obligations that were imposed as part of a judgment. This could include paying damages or fines.

Impact on Credit Score

If these financial obligations are not met, it could have a negative impact on the individual’s credit score. This could make it more difficult for them to obtain loans or credit in the future.

Recent Changes to Laws Regarding Suing Minors in Houston, TX

In recent years, there have been several changes to laws regarding suing minors in Houston. These changes have been made with the aim of protecting minors from excessive legal consequences while still holding them accountable for their actions.

New Protections for Minors

New protections have been put in place for minors who are sued. These include limitations on financial recovery and restrictions on property seizure.

Changes to Sentencing Guidelines

Sentencing guidelines for minors have also been updated. These changes aim to ensure that the punishment fits the crime and that minors are not unduly penalized for their actions.

Finding Legal Advice About Suing Minors for Various Offenses Committed Within the Jurisdiction of Houston, Texas

If you are considering suing a minor in Houston, Texas, it is important to seek legal advice. There are many factors to consider and laws can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Consulting with a Lawyer

Consulting with a lawyer who specializes in juvenile law can provide valuable insight into your case. They can help you understand your rights and options and guide you through the legal process.

Legal Aid Resources

There are several legal aid resources available in Houston that can provide free or low-cost legal advice. These resources can be particularly helpful if you cannot afford to hire a private attorney.

Yes, it is possible to sue a minor under certain circumstances but the process can be complex due to their legal status. The outcome and proceedings largely depend on the specific laws of the state in which you live.

Can you sue a minor in the US?

In most states, if a child intentionally causes an injury, you are allowed to bring a lawsuit against the child or the child’s parent or guardian. However, there are often state-specific laws that restrict your ability to sue children, particularly those of very young age, for negligent actions.

Can you sue a minor in North Carolina?

In accordance with North Carolina legislation, a minor under the age of 18 cannot be directly sued. Nevertheless, a child aged 15 can secure a learner’s permit, and by the age of 16 and a half, they can commence some unsupervised driving.

Can you sue a minor in Canada?

A legal claim in civil court can be made against an individual, business, organization, or even the government if they have caused harm or financial damage to you. In instances of negligence, all parties including minors can be held legally accountable.

Can you sue a minor in Virginia?

Positive news: If you’ve been injured by a minor, you may be able to take legal action against the minor or their parents. By seeking the help of a lawyer, you can determine if you should proceed with a lawsuit and identify the liable parties. It’s always recommended to consult with a highly-rated personal injury attorney from our firm about the best approach to filing your claim.

Can a minor be sued for misrepresented his age?

Serious legal penalties can result from misrepresenting someone’s age. This could lead to misdemeanor charges, particularly if a minor is involved in the age misrepresentation; denial of privileges for which the individual was applying; or other consequences. This information is current as of July 18, 2023.

How old do you have to be to sue in the US?

Individuals aged 18 and above have the right to file a Small Claims case. Those under 18 require legal representation by a certified attorney. Individuals and businesses need to ensure they are using their official legal name when initiating or being involved in a lawsuit. It’s crucial to verify the defendant’s correct name, address, and contact number before proceeding with your lawsuit.

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