If Your Child Commits a Malicious Act, You May Be Held Liable

Kids will be kids, but when their actions lead to property damage or injury, someone must answer for their misbehavior. Unfortunately, the parent or legal, whether they were present at the time or not, can be held financially responsible for any damage done by their child.

Parents may face civil lawsuits for a child’s misbehavior when that child’s actions lead to personal injury or property damage. In the 1990s states started to adopt parental responsibility laws to combat youth crime, and these laws still exist in most states today. 

In the state of California, a parent or legal guardian can be held liable when a minor damages property or causes personal injury. This is covered by the California Civil Code, which states “Any act of willful misconduct of a minor that results in injury or death to another person, or in any injury to the property of another, shall be imputed to the parent or guardian having custody and control of the minor for all purposes of civil damages.” This can also be known as vicarious liability since someone is being held responsible for another person’s actions.

Penalties for violation of these laws include financial responsibility for compensation of damages and court costs as well as financial responsibility for the juvenile’s detention and counseling. Following the initial financial repercussions, the parents must also participate in the child’s treatment, whether it’s therapy or some other diversion program. In the event that the parent is found to be negligent in their supervision, they may face criminal responsibility and possible jail time.

These damages incur a $25,000 compensation limit for any personal injuries or property damage caused by your child. A child injury lawyer Los Angeles can help investigate the claimant’s damages so that you are paying solely for the damages your child caused. Your child injury lawyer Los Angeles can tell you that parental liability is only for financial and physical damages, and you cannot be held liable for any emotional distress. 

Parental responsibility laws are typically divided up into torts, which incur a civil suit, and illegal crimes, which incur a criminal suit. 

Civil Parental Liability

Most civil lawsuits brought against parents for their child’s misbehavior are due to financial reasons, including property damage and personal injury. Common property damages caused by minors are due to vandalism, like spray painting buildings or defacing statues.

In the event that your child harms someone else, whether it’s an adult or child, the parent will be financially responsible. In the event that your child hurts another child badly enough so that they need medical attention, it’s possible that the parents can decide to pursue legal action against you. Gutierrez Law is a Los Angeles child injury attorney that has experience in dealing with damages caused by minors that can defend you and your child.

The injured person will hire a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation on their behalf, but in accordance with parental responsibility laws, their lawyer can only pursue the parent for physical damages, not emotional damages. As the parent is held liable for any medical bills following the accident, they should also reach out to a lawyer like Gutierrez Law.

Criminal Parental Liability

Most lawsuits regarding parental responsibility are civil suits, but there are criminal cases where the child has broken the law. Criminal parental liability typically involves one of the following: 

  • Delinquency – Minors that skip school for a certain period of time without providing a doctor’s note. 
  • Internet and Computer Crimes – Minors that hack others’ computers or pirate music or movies. 
  • Firearm Access – Minors that gain access to firearms and use them to commit a crime.

In most states, it’s illegal for a parent or guardian to leave a firearm somewhere it could be easily accessed by a minor. In a tragedy that is all too common, minors can injure or kill each other while playing with a firearm that they don’t know is loaded. A child injury lawyer Los Angeles can ensure compensation following this event.

Reaching Out to a Lawyer

While you may have not committed any endangering acts yourself, legally you are held liable for those caused by your child. If your child has committed a crime for which you may be liable, you may need to search for a child injury lawyer near me because child injury lawyers are well-versed in cases involving minors. Your Los Angeles child injury attorney can assess the damage and determine how much you will need to compensate the victim. 

Gutierrez Law is an attorney that can make sure you are only held liable for your child’s misbehavior, thus avoiding any negligence charges. Following an accident involving your child, Gutierrez Law can provide legal padding to ensure you are treated fairly by the authorities.