On Point – 7/18/07:

A Minnesota couple whose 3-year-old son suffered brain injuries in a car accident has won a $100,000 settlement from their auto insurer by having the child sue them for negligent installation of his car seat.

The Minnesota Supreme Court granted summary judgment to Teddy Harrison, now 9, finding that the state’s “seat belt gag rule” does not apply to his suit against his parents. The child was thrown from his mother’s SUV when it was struck by an uninsured motorist driving another vehicle in April 2001.

“[T]he plain language of [the gag rule exception] permits an action to be made against a child’s parents for negligent installation and maintenance of a child passenger restraint system,” the court said in a decision that required the Harrison family’s insurer to settle Teddy’s claim for the full limit of its policy.



  1. Ari Kukkonen says:

    hmm, so uninsured motorist runs into one other vehicle and the other vehicles mother pays because she did not attach her child properly into the car?

    btw, in Finland there is a law that all under 12-year-olds must be sit in proper childs when traveling in the car. I think that is good law. I always use ISOFIX-attached seats in my cars, there is no way one cannot install them properly.

  2. tallwookie says:

    yea, and i bet it was his own idea too this is some bs, I wonder how much the lawyer got

  3. moss says:

    Yup, yup. Once again the courts prove to be as sleazy as the lawyers, who are as sleazy as the politicians, who are….

  4. RTaylor says:

    This was a legal ploy to get the insurance company to the table. They’ll offer a lower settlement or threaten years of appeals. Honestly $100K is a drop in the bucket when compared to the health care of a brain damaged person. The rest will probably be picked up by Medicaid, and you know who funds that.

  5. bobbo says:

    What we have here is the “court of last resort.”

    Sleaze? – – Yes, but locate it accurately.

    No, or inadequate health care?==only remedy is to sue.

    No requirement or enforcement of cars to be insured (eg==pay at the pump)==only remedy is to sue.

    Whats happening is “society” recognizing that a need has arisen yet society has failed to most appropriately provide the service. The courts are left to deal with these human needs in an adversarial basis. Bad system, but what you gonna do when people refuse to demand social equity from their legislative branch?

  6. Jonathan Fox says:

    That Finnish law is an EU wide law brought in this year.

  7. MikeN says:

    Isn’t this insurance fraud?

  8. Mr. Fusion says:

    #7, MikeN,

    No. Insurance fraud is when you claim damages when there aren’t any or claim excessive damages to what did occur.

    In this case, and there are others so it is not novel, is the insurance company didn’t want to pay for the child’s injuries. The only option is to sue the “at fault” party. In this case, the parents. The action is no different then if the injured child was a neighbor’s kid except this child needed a guardian to sue on his behalf.

  9. Sean says:

    As screwed up as this may sound, the problem is really the lack of health insurance in this country. If a 3 year old is tragically injured and has no health insurance, the only way to get money to pay for necessary medical costs is to find a negligent party and sue.

  10. Uncle Dave says:

    #1 & 6: Up to 12 years old have to be in a child’s car seat??? I was 6 feet tall when I was 11. How would that have worked?

  11. hhopper says:

    This type of lawsuit is not all that unusual. Basically the parents were suing their own insurance company in the name of their child.

  12. #5: “Whats happening is “society” recognizing that a need has arisen yet society has failed to most appropriately provide the service. The courts are left to deal with these human needs in an adversarial basis. Bad system, but what you gonna do when people refuse to demand social equity from their legislative branch?”

    bobbo, thanks– MoL

  13. Mr. Fusion says:

    #9, Sean,

    Very true. The up front costs of equipping the house for a wheelchair will not be nearly as much as the ongoing medical needs. Plus you just know the health insurance won’t pay a nickel if there is any chance another insurer will pay.

  14. framitz says:

    And the next step should be to arrest the parents for criminal neglegence, or what ever law covers allowing a child to come to harm through neglegence.

  15. sbxpana says:

    prevedburzhuy


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