Parental Liability Basics

Parental liability refers to the parents’ obligation to compensate for the damages or injuries caused by the intentional, negligent or criminal acts of their children. This liability begins when the child is 8-10 years old and will continue until the children reach the age of majority. Today almost all states have parental liability laws. The liability can be civil and/or criminal depending on the circumstances.

Civil Parental Liability

In most states, if a child causes property damage, the parents will be held liable for the damage. In some states, there is a limit on the financial liability of the parents for such damages. Also whether or not the parent is liable will depend on the age of the child. Hawaii does not limit the financial liability of the parents and also imposes liability on the parent for intentional as well as negligent tortuous acts of their children.

Criminal Parental Liability

Parents can be held criminally liable for the delinquent acts of their children. In 1903, Colorado passed the first law that provided for parental liability for the delinquent acts of a minor. A minor is some who is yet to reach the age of majority. The age of majority varies from state to state. In most states it is 18 while in some it is 19 or 21.

Insurance Coverage

Generally, homeowners insurance will cover claims for negligent acts of the children or claims of negligent supervision against the parents even if the act did not take place at the home. It will protect the policyholder against claims of injury suffered on the insured property if the injury is a result of any act of another family member or the policyholder.

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