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Liability of Parents

A parent is not ordinarily liable for a tort committed by a child.  However, there are exceptions.  If the parent knows that the child has a dangerous tendency, such as the tendency to set things on fire, the parent could be liable if the parent did not take reasonable steps to prevent such an occurrence.  Such steps could be getting psychological counseling for the child or watching the child very thoroughly.

If a child is a reckless driver and the parent knows that the child is a reckless driver, the parent might be liable if the child uses the parent’s car with the parent’s permission and causes an accident.  This is called negligent entrustment.

In about half of the states of the U.S., a parent supplying a family car to a family member (child) is liable for any harm negligently caused by the family member (child).  This assumption of liability is normally agreed to by the parent when he/she signs the minor child’s driver’s license application.

Inside Liability of Parents