New details released in death of eight-year-old riding bicycle

by Benjamin Treviño | May 15th, 2024 | Blog

PHARR — Pharr police have released new details on the April 26 death of an eight year old boy who died when he was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle. The details are found in an investigation report compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The report states that at 7:30 p.m., April 26, Pharr police officers responded to the 700 block of E. Eller Street where a truck leaving an apartment complex fatally struck 8-year-old Caleb Ramirez.

The report further states that the truck involved in the crash was a black GMC Sierra pickup driven by a 17-year-old male, and accompanied by an 18-year-old male. It adds that the driver of the GMC truck was given a citation for a charge of “no driver’s license.”

A section of the report titled “Investigator’s narrative opinion of what happened,” states the truck was travelling eastbound on 701 E. Eller Street as it was exiting the driveway. According to the report, the driver stated he was driving 25-30 miles per hour and did not see the bike in front of him and was unable to brake in time.

The report states that Ramirez was attempting to cross the street on a bicycle from the driveway of his home, and did not yield the right of way to the truck. The investigator’s narrative concludes by stating that the truck struck the bicycle with the front bumper of the vehicle.

Ramirez’s time of death was listed as 8:09 p.m.


Texas Parental Responsibility Law

When a minor child is responsible for someone else’s property damage or personal injury, the juvenile justice system takes a different approach to liability than in cases involving adults. Generally speaking, the courts assign liability to the child’s parents.

Many parents don’t know that the courts can hold them legally responsible for the actions and behavior of their minor child. Texas, and almost every other state, has enacted a version of parental responsibility laws.

Texas Family Code, Chapter 41

Chapter 41 describes parental liability for the conduct of a child, but only deals with property damage, not personal injury. Texas’ parental responsibility laws do not cover personal injury liability. The statute assigns liability to any parent or “other person who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline” of a minor – meaning that legal guardians may be held responsible for the actions of a minor child. The courts will hold a parent liable for property damage a child causes in two situations:

The courts can attribute a child’s negligent conduct to a negligent failure on the part of a parent or guardian when the child is between the ages of 10 and 18, and if they committed the act willfully and maliciously.

The Family Code places a limit on damages available for recovery according to the willful and malicious conduct of a child. The cap is to actual damages, not to exceed $25,000, plus attorney’s fees and court costs. The $25,000 or actual damage cap is per occurrence, meaning that two separate acts of property damage may have caps of $25,000 each. For example, if a minor child willfully and maliciously causes property damage in two different rooms of a hotel, the damage limits will apply to each room separately.

Texas Family Code does not cover property damage that results from accidental actions or behaviors. The courts will not assign fault for a child’s accident to his or her parents. For a defendant to bring a claim against a minor child for property damage, he or she needs to prove that the child’s negligence or willful and malicious intent caused the damage, not simply an accident.

Parental liability beyond statute

The Texas Family Code does not have the only word on parental responsibility. The statutes in Chapter 41 do not list every negligent action that courts might assign to parents. Civil liability may extend to parents under the principles of common law in certain situations. It is possible for an injured party to bring a personal injury claim against parents for damages a child caused on the grounds of parental negligence.

A party may be able to sue a minor’s parents for negligence or breach of duty if he or she can prove that the parents knew of a child’s propensity for the harmful behavior before it occurred and failed to do anything to prevent an injury or property damage.

Call J. Gonzalez

If you have been injured by the negligent actions of a minor child, and you believe the parents might bear some responsibility for it, call J. Gonzalez. A successful claim or lawsuit depends on having the right personal injury attorney on your side.

Contact the J. Gonzalez Law Firm to discuss your case via this website, or by calling our toll-free number at 1-800-CAR-CRASH.




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