Parental Responsibility for Children's Actions in Washington

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What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is where parents or guardians are held financially responsible for their children’s actions.

How Does Washington Law Apply?

In Washington, parents are held responsible if their children are under 18 years of age and their children live with them. The children must have also acted willfully or maliciously.

So, if the children acting negligently or carelessly to cause injury to another, then the parents will not be liable under Washington civil law.

Is There a Limit on the Liability?

Yes. Parents are only liable for up to $5,000 of property damage no matter how much the damage is. For example, if your child gets into a car accident and wrecks the victim’s $30,000 car, then the parent will only need to pay at a maximum $5,000.

Will I Still Be Liable under Common Law?

Unfortunately, yes. Even if you are not liable under Washington civil law, the claimant may bring a common law action against you. In such a case, then you will be liable if you knew of your children’s propensity to harm others or knew about your children’s plans to cause injury, and did not take any action to prevent or to supervise your children.

Contacting an Attorney

If your child is involved in a personal injury suit, it is best to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to limit or to shield your own parental responsibility liability. The lawyer will help you in all of your court proceedings and assess your case.

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Last Modified: 08-13-2014 02:43 PM PDT

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