When do children have to pay for the damage they have caused?

An 11-year-old child walking outside the children’s home, where he is institutionalized, physically assaulted a nine-year-old boy who was outside with his mother. The young man deliberately tripped his legs, causing him a shattering fracture of the left femur with lasting consequences.

The injured party then sued both the young man and the children’s home for compensation for damage to health. He claimed more, but the court of first instance awarded him CZK 617,925, which he ordered to be paid jointly to the young man and the children’s home.

According to an expert opinion from the field of health, from the field of psychiatry – clinical psychology, it was found that the young man was able to control his actions and assess its consequences, but in both cases, these qualities were reduced. The court of first instance therefore concluded that the legal preconditions for the young man to be liable for the damage were met, namely willful misconduct, damage to the health of the plaintiff and causal link.

The responsibility of the children’s home was based on the fact that the inmate was a problematic person, that he had already physically abused other inmates of the children’s home and therefore needed a higher degree of supervision, instructional control and leadership. Therefore, if they let the young man wander around without proper supervision, the children’s home is responsible for neglecting proper supervision.

The children’s home is not a prison and children have the right to freedom of movement

The appeals court upheld the verdict against the young man, but changed it by dismissing the case against the orphanage. The appeal court recalled that the young man was placed in an orphanage with his younger brothers and sisters only because of the parents’ complete lack of interest in caring for children – raising and caring for them. Thus, the regulation of institutional education was not for behavioral disorders, but to replace the educational care of parents.

The children’s home is an open structure designed to simulate the home environment as much as possible, and the unaccompanied walk of an 11-year-old child is one of his rights, which can only be restricted within the framework of a ban specific within the framework of educational measures.

Therefore, proper monitoring cannot be permanent, continuous and immediate monitoring, because that would essentially be strict liability.

Regarding the actions of the young man, the Court of Appeal declared that he had retained reduced capacities for control and recognition, that he was less intelligent, but that at the age of 11, when he was already aware that he was doing something wrong and was able to direct his actions, he just didn’t.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which however dismissed the appeal in part and dismissed it in part, thus upholding the decision of the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court recalled the current legislation and judicial decision-making practice.

What does the Civil Code say about the responsibility of children and adolescents?

A minor who has not acquired full autonomy (from July 1, 2021, the following words have been added: he has reached the age of 13), or who suffers from a mental disorder, will compensate the damage s he was able to control his actions and assess the consequences. (§ 2920 al. 1 of. Z)

The injured party is entitled to compensation even if he did not resist the pest to be nice to him. According to paragraph 2, if a minor who has not acquired full autonomy (and again here from July 1, 2021 the mention: has reached the age of 13) or a person with a mental disorder has been unable to control its actions and assess its consequences, the injured party is entitled to compensation if it is fair taking into account the ownership of the pest and the injured party.

Together and inseparably, the pest will be compensated by the one who has neglected its adequate monitoring. If the pest is not obliged to compensate, the injured party will be compensated by the person who neglected to monitor the pest. (§ 2921 Coll.)

What did the Supreme Court say and decide?

In the judgment, the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic concluded that minors who have not acquired full autonomy and the mentally handicapped compensate for the damage they have caused if they have been able to assess the consequences of their actions and control them. (file no. 25 Cdo 1091/2020).

Otherwise (unless, taking into account the ownership of the harmful organism and the injured person, it is just that the criminally incapable are nevertheless obliged to compensate) the injured person is only entitled to compensation against the person who was required to supervise if he neglected proper supervision.

Even a developmentally retarded young man from a dysfunctional family needs to know not to hurt others.

The Supreme Court ruled that the young man committed the attack when he was 11 years old, was developmentally delayed, immature and intelligently in the range of lower mental disorders medium to light. He generally knew that he should not harm other children, but he was unable to adequately assess the possible consequences of his actions, and so he was able to control his actions and assess its consequences, but these qualities were significantly reduced. He didn’t want to cause serious injury.

The young man was therefore responsible for his actions, because although he had not reached full intellectual maturity, he was limited by personal intelligence, he had reduced control and intellectual capacities, but he had retained them in point that he generally knew his age, that he shouldn’t hurt others, that he was doing something wrong, and that he was able to direct his actions, he just didn’t.

An orphanage replaces parental care, but does not have the same educational opportunities as them

On the contrary, with regard to the children’s home, he is obliged by law to allow his charges to take an independent walk without an educator. The behavior of the young man before the incident did not deviate from the normal behavior of an eleven-year-old boy who has reached puberty, especially in an orphanage.

The requirement for adequate supervision cannot be understood as constant supervision, which essentially prevents the person being supervised from acting independently. Such intensive supervision would lead to a considerable loss of children’s freedom and, consequently, of their enjoyment of life. Their ability to undertake adventurous activities and be independent would be severely limited.

Secondly, the objective of childcare, within the framework of parental responsibility, is to ensure the good overall development of the child, both physically and emotionally, intellectually and morally, and thus to guarantee that the child is able to make his own decisions once he has become independent and bears the consequences of his actions.

Teaching children autonomy and responsibility is therefore a duty, but also a parental right. By raising their children independently, parents are the best way to protect them from harm. This important aspect of raising children would be completely negated by the absolute responsibility of parents for the actions of their children.

At the same time, there is no reasonable reason why the above conclusions regarding parental care should not be applied appropriately to caregivers in children’s homes. In addition, a distinction must be made between the educational responsibilities of parents who have long-term care, the management of their behavior, interests, hobbies and hobbies, education and direction systematics of their behavior, and the possibilities of the children’s home in which the child is already placed with certain habits, marked by the educational deficiencies of the current environment and more difficult to influence with regard to other factors limiting the taking into account. institutional care where primary parental care has failed.

Assessment of the case as a common clash of children, but with serious consequences

The Supreme Court assessed the incident as lashing out at an 11-year-old boy after an utterly trivial verbal exchange of vulgarities initiated by a pest, in that the injured boy fled, but the young man more aged ripped her from behind and tripped her legs and then knelt on her feet or pushed her.

So this was a deliberate and deliberate action by an older, stronger young man against a younger boy who apparently ran away in fear of the older boy, and he insidiously attacked him from behind, with the intention of knocking him to the ground, publicly humiliating and at least causing immediate pain. .

It was a common skirmish of children of a certain age, but with an extremely serious consequence, that he probably did not mean to cause a plague, but only because it cannot be concluded that he is not responsible for this action and its consequence.

The young man in the children’s home was told how to behave on a walk, how he should and should not treat other children, and he generally knew that such behavior was not okay, he just decided he was going to behave that way anyway. The conclusion of the Court of Appeal that the intentional behavior was committed (although the intention does not appear to imply causing such serious damage to health) is therefore correct.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court added that the instruction on how to treat other children in the orphanage is sufficient instruction on interpersonal relationships, as one cannot imagine inappropriate conduct for the other children in the orphanage, but appropriate for other children and vice versa.

The abuser will be burdened with childhood debt, but will the victim ever receive compensation?

The Supreme Court deplored the unfortunate situation of the injured boy, who would suffer lasting consequences for the rest of his life, but also the situation of a pest from a family background so unhappy that he had to be taken into custody at seen in an orphanage. and will likely have a very limited ability to pay the full compensation himself.

However, this obligation cannot be a joint and several charge of the children’s home, since such an approach would amount to an objective liability which the children’s home does not have.

The Supreme Court of the Czech Republic therefore states in the judgment that the provision of § 2920 para. (file no. 25 Cdo 3864/2020).

However, no legal provision makes it possible to impose an obligation of compensation on the person carrying out unlawful surveillance, provided that he has not neglected this surveillance. This conclusion cannot be overturned even by a reference to the protection of the rights of the injured party, since such a procedure would lead to absurd consequences, where, in the case of a wrong culprit of personal injury, a financially secured adequate entity would be obligated to repair the damage without support. In this case, an orphanage.

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