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Message # 704 Parental liability for acts of children

mp3 #704 Are Parents Liable for Damage Caused by their Children? (mp3 file)



Are you, as a parent, or guardian, responsible for the acts of your children which cause some injury to another person or damage to their property? In certain cases you may be. For instance, the law of the state of California says that if you allow a child under eighteen years of age to have a firearm, or if you leave a gun in a place where the child can get it, and the firing of that weapon by the child injures or damages property, you, as the parent or guardian having custody and control of that child, as well as the child, may be liable not only for the property damage caused by the shooting, but also for any injury or death up to a limit of $30,000 for each person injured or killed, and up to a total of $60,000 if more than one person is injured or dies.


The law also provides that any willful misconduct of a child under the age of 18, if it results in injury or death to another person, or results in damage to the property of another person, is imputed to the parents or guardians having both custody and control of that child. This means that the parents or guardians are as liable as the child is for the damages the child causes by his misconduct. There is a limit to this liability, which is $25,000 for each wrongful act of the child which causes property damage, and in the case of injury to another person, only medical, dental and hospital expenses are allowed up to a total of $25,000 for that person. If a minor child wilfully defaces someone else's property with paint or something similar, the child and the parents having custody and control of that child would be liable to the damaged property owner, not only for the replacement or repairs involved, but also court costs and attorney's fees, to a total limit of $25,000.


All of the liabilities which have been discussed, are really the liabilities of the child, which are transferred to and shared by the parents. But if your child commits a wrong or causes damage, you may be liable yourself as an individual, for negligence in failing to properly supervise your child. There are no statutory limitations on the amount of damages that can be recovered for this direct liability.


So you see, there are many instances where parents or guardians may be required to pay money to someone who is in some way damaged or injured by the acts of their children. If you are a person who has been injured by a child or your property has been damaged by a child, the parents or guardians of that child may be personally liable to you and you may be entitled to damages from them.

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