“My son’s bike was damaged (but fortunately not my son) when a neighbor’s child had disingaged a parking brake on the family car and, since the car was a stick shift parked in nuetral, the car began to roll out of the neighbor’s driveway into the street, striking my son’s bike. Can I sue to get the bike fixed?”
The short answer is yes. The best claim you have is against the owner of the car for negligent entrustment of the vehicle to a young child. Even if the owner did not leave the car unlocked with a child alone in the car, so long as the owner left the keys in a location for the child to get to them, the owner would be responsible for safeguarding the vehicle.
In civil court, children under 4 cannot be charged with negligence and children under 6 cannot be charged as violating the vehicle and traffic law. Although older children can be held liable for violating the vehicle and traffic law, children over 6 are only held to be responsible for laws they understand. Children over 4 could be negligent under the law, but their conduct is compared to “a reasonably prudent” child of the age of the child in question.