If a friend of the family’s son broke our new TV, are the parents liable or am I just out?

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If a friend of the family’s son broke our new TV, are the parents liable or am I just out?

This a high value item at $4200 and is not covered under our insurance supposedly because we did not contact them to let them know and add it to a high value list with them. So far the parents have offered to have their son come over and work it off by doing cleaning for us.The child is 11 so I do not think it is feasible to have a child work off that much money.

Asked on January 11, 2016 under Business Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the parents would be liable if the child broke the TV either deliberately or through unreasonable carelessness on his part: when an adult breaks another's property these ways, they are liable, and when a minor does, their legal guardians or parents are liable. If the TV broke because you were careless--for example, you allowed the children to play ball in your living room--or through no one's fault--e.g. he just turned it on and the screen blew, or when he touched it, a table leg, without warning collapsed, spilling it on the floor--he and his parents would not be liable; liability is based on fault, so without fault, there is no liability. Of course, even if the parents are liable, if they won't pay voluntarily, you'd have to sue  them for the money.


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