As parents, we spend most of our time taking care of our children. We buy them clothes, fix them dinner, & teach them everything they need to know early in life. In short, we are responsible for their entire well-being. But, are we also responsible for them if they do something that causes a lawsuit?
Each year, many accidents happen that were caused, at least in part, by a child. Unlike an accident that involved two grown adults, an accident involving a child must take into account a host of variables that will look to determine if the child is indeed responsible for the incident and if so, the parents may bear the brunt any financial compensation due the victim.
Let’s look at a simple situation, such as a child riding a bike and striking a pedestrian who then falls and is injured. There are several things a judge will consider when determining possible fault and subsequent punishment:
- The age of the child-Firstly, the age of the child can be a factor. For instance, if the child that caused the accident was only 3 or 4, it is likely that no fault would be presumed. However, if the child is 10, 11 or older, they may be considered to be of an age to have known how to better control themselves and thus prevent such an accident from occurring.
- If the child showed malice or intent-Another factor to consider is whether the child showed any malice or intent during the accident. If they were simply riding their bike and made an error in judgement, then they are not seen as at fault. But if they were heard to be taunting the victim or riding their bike recklessly while being aware of the position of the victim then they indeed could be held liable for the accident and the damages that occurred as a result. Witnesses to the event can be helpful in determining intent or innocence in this case.
- Additional circumstances surrounding the incident-With any accident investigation, the other circumstances surrounding the incident will be taken into consideration. These could include weather conditions, the actions of the victim, a mechanical malfunction of the bike in this case, or any of several other variables that may have existed in the environment at the time the incident occurred.
So, taking all the above into consideration, is it possible a parent could be liable for the actions of their child? In short, the answer is yes. If a child is found to be negligent in an incident such as the one described above, the parents may indeed be responsible for any financial restitution that may be required. While they may be sued personally, damages could be paid via an underlying homeowner’s policy or an existing personal liability policy. If you are facing legal trouble due to an incident your child was involved in, it is recommended that you secure a legal team to represent you immediately. They will help navigate you through the process and do their best to protect you and your family and help protect your finances.