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How Does Parental Liability Affect California Accidents Caused By Children?

Young people don’t always have the best grasp of how their actions can affect others. In fact, a poor decision by a minor (someone under 18) or a sudden lashing out in frustration can cause a devastating accident and injury.

You or a family member may be hurt by the actions of a child. It may have simply been a careless accident, but there will still be physical and financial consequences resulting from that mistake.

Holding a child responsible may not get you the support your family needs, but California does enforce parental liability in some personal injury cases.

A Free Consultation After a California Accident Involving Parental Liability

Once you are facing the incredible costs of medical care and losing income over an injury, you may be forced to ask for support. Holding children financially liable for their mistakes may not provide any help at all, but in California, their parents or guardians can often be held accountable under parental liability laws.

These cases can be complex and it’s important to know all of your options before filing a claim for damages. Talk to a real Parental Liability Personal Injury Lawyer to discuss your best path to earning support for the hardships your family has faced.

Contact Maison Law for a free and confidential case evaluation. You are under no obligation to hire us. But if you do feel we can help you earn support, you don’t need any upfront money. We don’t get paid unless we win your case.

When Can I Hold a Parent Responsible After a Child Causes an Accident?

Children can certainly get into trouble and sometimes those mistakes can be laughed off. However, the actions of minors can cause real harm in some cases. Unfortunately, they don’t usually have the financial resources to pay for the damages they cause or help injured victims pay for their recoveries.

This is why California allows victims to file a claim against an at-fault child’s parents or guardians after an accident. Under civil parental liability, the parents or guardians may be held accountable in certain situations.

Determining if you can hold parents liable for the actions of their children largely depends on the intent of the child:

  • Willful misconduct – A physical attack, an intentional shooting, or vandalism that damages property are examples of willful misconduct. When it’s determined that minors purposely harmed someone, victims will likely be granted the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the parents or guardians.
  • Negligent Acts – A minor might accidentally cause harm in an accident, and if this is the case, a court must rule on whether the child’s actions were negligent. Their ruling will determine if the parents will face liability (more on this determination below).
  • Parent Neglect — A parent or guardian who doesn’t perform his or her duties to supervise a child who is a known risk for dangerous behavior could be found negligent. Any harm falling upon an innocent party could earn compensation from the parents. This involves “direct liability” and is discussed further below.

Determining Whether a Child Was Negligent in a California Accident

Negligence for a child is not measured in the same way it would be measured for an adult. When ruling on if a child’s act was negligent, California courts will not weigh the actions against the way a reasonable adult is expected to behave.

Instead, the child’s behavior will be measured against the expectations and limits of a child’s understanding at their current age and amount of life experiences. In some cases, a court may rule that the parents or guardians can be held accountable after a child’s negligent act.

Parental Liability in Car Accidents Caused by Minors

Parents or guardians can be liable for any harm a young driver causes. With car accidents, the intent of the driver won’t matter. The parent can be held responsible no matter if the child intended to cause harm or was simply careless.

Damages paid out by parents won’t exceed around $25,000 for injuries or death for actual damages. However, this doesn’t include the victim’s compensation for physical and emotional pain, which can be substantially more.

Vicarious Liability for Parents in California

When a child causes injury or death to someone, the child’s parents or guardians are deemed liable through California’s concept of “vicarious liability.”

Vicarious liability applies when someone’s negligence causes harm to someone else. The at-fault party can be held responsible, but in California, anyone legally responsible for that party and with a duty to control that party may also share in the liability.

Guardians may be forced to pay victims or their family members up to around $25,000 for each person injured or killed (the limit goes up every two years with inflation). There is also a set limit on property damage liability parents must accept when the damage was purposely caused by a child.

When parents are insured in these cases, the insurance company only pays up to $10,000 dollars of any money awarded to victims.

Direct Liability for Parents in California Personal Injury Accidents

Victims can also file a claim against parents while alleging direct liability in an accident. Vicarious liability holds a parent liable for the conduct of a child. Direct liability holds parents liable for their own actions or inactions concerning a child.

Parents may know a child engages in dangerous habits that risk the safety of others. If they don’t take reasonable action to stop those actions, they can be held accountable through direct liability.

Victims may argue that a parent saw the behavior that caused an injury and stood by without taking action. They can also assert that the parent was aware that harm could occur based on a child’s previous actions and yet made no effort to prevent a future accident.

Contact a Parental Liability Lawyer in California

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured through the careless or reckless actions of a minor, it’s important to know your rights and the benefits available to you.

Holding a child’s parents responsible for a child’s harmful actions or a parent’s inaction is an important step in getting the money you need to rebuild your life.

Tell a skilled California attorney like Martin Gasparian about what happened to you and find out how to earn financial assistance with your recovery as soon as possible. Contact the offices of Maison Law for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to find out what your case is worth and who should be providing support to you.

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