Are parents held liable for the damages or harm caused by their children?

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2023Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2023

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2023Fact Checked

Although parents and guardians are liable for monetary damages for the intentional or negligent harm caused by their children, most states have limitations on the amount of money parents and guardians must pay through parental liability. In addition, a homeowner’s insurance policy may provide coverage for certain acts, depending on the circumstances. Call your insurer to discuss your specific policy and situation to determine coverage.

In general, parents and guardians are liable for injuries and damages caused by their minor child – that is, a child between the ages of 8 and 18. Many state courts consider parents and guardians to have parental liability under the legal theory of vicarious liability, which assigns responsibility to one person for another’s harmful act where there is a special relationship between the two people. Since parents (or guardians) and children have a special relationship and children are too young to be held financially responsible for their actions, it is the parents and guardians who must pay for the children’s harmful acts. Such acts include, but are not limited to, intentional or negligent destruction of property, personal injury or death, theft, vandalism, and auto accidents. The legal theory of negligent supervision and parental liability may also hold parents and guardians, as well as grandparents or any person who is supposed to be caring for a child, liable for injuries or damages caused by that child while he was under their supervision.

Case Studies: Are parents held liable for the damages or harm caused by their children?

Case Study 1: Property Destruction

Sarah, a 12-year-old child, intentionally damages a neighbor’s car by scratching it with a sharp object. The neighbor demands compensation for the repair costs from Sarah’s parents, who are found liable for the damages under parental liability laws. Sarah’s parents consult with a lawyer to understand their legal obligations and explore options for resolving the situation.

Case Study 2: Personal Injury

Michael, a 16-year-old teenager, negligently causes a bicycle accident that results in a severe injury to another individual. The injured party holds Michael’s parents responsible for their son’s actions and files a lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. The court determines that Michael’s parents have parental liability and must provide financial compensation for the harm caused.

Case Study 3: Negligent Supervision

Emma, a 14-year-old girl, visits her friend’s house and accidentally starts a fire while playing with matches. The fire causes significant damage to the friend’s property, and the friend’s parents hold Emma’s parents liable for the resulting expenses. Under the legal theory of negligent supervision, Emma’s parents are found responsible for the damages caused by their daughter’s actions while under their supervision.

 

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption