Are we responsible for personal injury damages caused by by 16 year-old stepson?

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Are we responsible for personal injury damages caused by by 16 year-old stepson?

My step-son (16 will be 17 this week) got into an altercation with a 26 year-old man 2 days ago. My step-son broke the other person’s jaw. My husband and I are wondering what to expect as we assume that the other person will sue for medical bills. My husband is not the custodial parent, but his son was at our house for the weekend when everything occurred. My husband had let him stay at a friend’s house for the night. Apparently my step-son and his friend left the house and were wandering around – no doubt looking for trouble. What do we expect from here?  What happens if we cannot pay? Can my he be forced to work off the damage? Should we speak to a personal injury defense attorney? We’re in Camden County, NJ.

Asked on August 22, 2010 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, I would speak with an attoreny about this matter as soon as you can.  There is certain legislation that has become popular throughout the states over the years known as Parental Responsibility Laws that basically do what they say: make a parent responsible for not only the criminal acts of their children but the civil and negligent acts as well.  The fact that your husband is not the custodial parent may or may not have a bearing on the matter and I am leaning toward it not making a difference, especially since he was in your care that night.  You will need to get the boys Mother involved here as well. Good luck to you all.


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