Parental Liability for the Acts of Children
My Child Injured Someone Else, Can I Be Held Responsible?
The answer to this question depends on your state's laws, the nature of the injury, and several other factors. States have different laws regarding the responsibility of parents for the acts of their children. Most states do allow for parents to be financially responsible for any damages their children cause. So, if your child destroys someone else's property, you may have to pay for it.
How am I Held Responsible for the Acts of my Child?
Parental responsibility laws (also known as parental liability laws) are based on the assumption that parents can reasonably control their children. Through the doctrine of vicarious liability, a person can be held responsible (or liable) for the acts of another based on their relationship.
What Types of Acts Can I Be Responsible For?
What acts are covered (and the amount you may be responsible for) varies from state to state. Most states focus on intentional misconduct or reckless behavior of your child. In other words, true accidents are usually not covered. But, if your child intentionally or recklessly injures someone or someone¿s property, you can be held responsible.
What Kinds of Limitations are There on These Laws?
Most states place limits on the amount of money you have to pay. For example, Iowa limits the amount to $2,000 per act. Other states have higher limits. Another limitation of these laws is that they usually have a minimum age. This age is usually 8 years old. So, if your child is younger than 8, you likely will not be held responsible for his or her acts.
Will I Always Be Responsible for the Acts of my Child?
There is one circumstance under which a parent will not be held responsible for the acts of his or her child, and that is when the child is emancipated. A child is emancipated when he or she is seen as an adult for all purposes of the law. This could happen when a child gets married and moves in with a spouse or joins the military. A court must declare that the child is emancipated.
Do These Laws Apply to Anyone Else?
Yes, these laws usually can extend beyond just a child's parents. The laws usually apply to those who have custody and control over a child. So, this could include people like grandparents, aunts and uncles, and step-parents.
What about Criminal Responsibility?
Some states are beginning to allow for parents to be held criminally responsible for acts of their children. For example, in California it is a misdemeanor for a parent to fail to exercise reasonable care over his child. If convicted, you could face up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine.
I'm Being Sued for the Acts of my Child, Do I Need a Lawyer?
The laws surrounding parental responsibility for the acts of their children are still developing and vary from state to state. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have knowledge of the local laws and can help you learn more about your rights and defenses. If criminal charges are brought against you for the acts of you child, be sure to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 09-16-2011 01:33 PM PDT
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