When Parents are Liable for their Children’s Negligence

As a general rule, individuals are not liable for the acts of third parties unless a special relationship exists. A parent/child or guardian/child relationship constitutes one of those special relationships. Almost every state in the United States has laws known as “parental responsibility laws” and imposes some degree of civil liability on parents for torts committed by their children. In Florida, certain statutes outline which of their children’s actions they will be responsible for.

Parental responsibility laws hold parents and legal guardians responsible for certain acts of their minor children. A minor is defined as a person under the age of 18 in the state of Florida. Thus, the legal principles discussed here will only pertain to actions of a child under the age of 18.

In Florida, a parent or guardian may be liable for their child’s negligence in certain contexts. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care in an act or omission that leads to injury or harm to another. Reasonable care is defined as acting how a prudent person would act in the same or similar circumstances. In short, negligence is the failure to take proper care when doing something.

Under Florida law, the application of a minor for a driver’s license must be signed and verified by a parent or guardian who is willing to assume the obligations outlined under the state statute. One of the things a parent or guardian does when they sign this application is represent that they will be financially responsible for any costs arising from car accidents the minor is involved in. This does not apply to an individual under the age of 18 years of age who is emancipated by marriage.

In essence, a parent or guardian is responsible for injuries or property damage caused by a minor’s negligence or willful misconduct while operating a motor vehicle. This means the parent and child will be jointly responsible for the monetary compensation owed to the injured party. Whether it is a minor accident in a parking garage or a serious crash on a highway, parents will be equally liable for any damages caused by their child. Consider the following example. A 16-year-old causes an accident and injures another driver because he or she was texting and driving. In such an instance, the parent or guardian who signed the minor’s application would be responsible for the injured party’s damages, which may include medical bills, lost income and wages, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, property damage, and any other costs arising from the accident.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to the careless conduct of another, you should contact an experienced Miami personal injury attorney immediately. If you’ve been harmed because of someone’s child, you may be able to take legal action against the child’s parents. Since these cases are not as common as ordinary negligence cases, it is important to have effective legal representation on your side. South Florida lawyer Robert Dixon has experience in virtually all types of personal injury matters and understands the nuances of parental responsibility laws. To find out about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

More Blog Posts:

Understanding the Basics of “Catastrophic Injuries” Under Florida Law, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, July 7, 2014

Understanding the Pure Comparative Negligence Law in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014

Liability in Rental Car Accidents in Florida – Adams v. Bell Partners, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014



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