Most people are unaware that a child’s parents can be held liable for the acts that their children undertake. Although many states have different laws when it comes to the acts of minor children, most states have a law that holds the parents responsible for intentional acts that have been committed by their minor child. In some states, the parents may be held liable for any accident caused by one of their children.
What does the Law Say?
Parental responsibility laws have been in place for many years, in fact, Hawaii was the very first state to bring about this law, and it has been in place since 1846. In most parts of the United States, parental responsibility can apply to civil and criminal acts that a minor child undertakes.
Holding a parent responsible for the acts of their children, state laws and legislatures have ensured that no victim should bear the burden of property damage or any medical costs that have occurred as a result on another person’s actions. One of the reasons why a parent is held responsible for the actions of their child is because the law has determined that they have a legal duty to supervise their children. If a parent should fail to supervise their children, and a child causes harm to property or another person it is the parent who may be found legally responsible. Legal responsibility can ultimately mean that a parent is financially responsible for their child’s actions too.
What Exactly is a Minor?
A minor is someone who has not legally become an adult. Although there are differences between states with regards to when a child becomes an adult most states say that a child becomes an adult at the age of 18. This means that parents are responsible for their child’s actions until they become an adult. However, there are some states that say a child becomes an adult at the age of 21 in some circumstances.
Parental Responsibility: Examples of Laws
Although parental responsibility laws may vary between states, there may be a few similarities between them. Here are a few examples of parental responsibility laws:
In California, parents of a minor could be held liable for willful misconduct that causes property damage, injury, or death. They may also be held liable for any damages that resulted from a minor’s negligent acts what they were driving a car with the permission of their parents. The parents may also be told to pay up to $25,000 of medical expenses and/or property damage.
In Louisiana, parents of a minor could be held liable for willful misconduct that causes property damage, injury, or death. They could also be found liable for any damage that their child does to a cemetery, synagogue, mosque, or church. In cases such as these, a parent may be required to pay up to $20,00 for each incident.
– New Jersey
In New Jersey, parents of a minor could be held liable for their child’s acts, but only if they cause damage to school property, railroads, or public utilities. The parent may have to pay up to $5,000 for the damages.
In Maine, parents of a minor could be held liable for their child’s malicious or willful damage to property or another person. The parent may have to pay up to $800, irrespective of the amount of damage caused.
When a Minor Drives a Car
In some parts of the United States, there is a parental liability law that makes every parent liable for any vehicle damage or injuries that a minor causes in an accident. Some states have statutes that define the liability even further. The statutes are known as ‘Sponsorship laws’ and state that everyone under 18 years of age must have a sponsor before they can apply for a driver’s license. Although a child’s parents are usually their sponsor, the sponsor can also be any adult, including an employer.
If a minor causes an accident, in negligent or is found to have engaged in willful misconduct, the liability will lay with the sponsor. This is the case even if the minor was driving a vehicle that their sponsor did not own.
If you are responsible for a minor and they damaged a property or caused harm to another person, please speak to a lawyer as soon as you can.
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