Parental Responsibility and Liability Laws

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What Are Parental Responsibility and Liability Laws?

Parental responsibility and liability means that parents are legally responsible for their children’s actions. Parents who are legally liable can face criminal charges or civil lawsuits.  Common acts committed by children that parents face liability for fall into two categories:

Usually, parental liability applies to minor children. Parental liability ends when the child reaches the age of majority, which is usually 18 years of age. For some states, the age of majority has been raised to 21 years of age for certain acts.

What Is Civil Parental Liability?

Parents may face civil lawsuits if their child commits malicious acts or property damage. Like an employer and employee relationship, parents may be held responsible for their children's actions even if they are not responsible for the injury. This is commonly referred to as vicarious liability.

Most civil lawsuits brought against parents for their child’s misbehavior are for financial damages. Common acts committed by minors in these cases are:

Parents are usually held liable for these crimes because of two reasons:

What Is Criminal Parental Liability?

Criminal parental liability is similar to civil parental liability, but covers serious acts that are in violation of criminal laws. Criminal parental liability is typically linked to:

Which States Have Parental Liability Laws?

Most states have some form of parental liability laws. Here are the states with more detailed laws:

Should I Get an Attorney If I Face Liability for My Child’s Actions?

Yes. A personal injury attorney can help you if your minor child committed a tort for which you may be held liable. Cases involving minors can be complex and have lasting effects. Your attorney can represent you in court and guide you through this process.

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Last Modified: 10-08-2015 01:39 PM PDT

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