Parents’ Liability for Intentional Injuries caused by a Minor

As a parent of a minor child who is in your physical and legal custody, you are well advised to supervise your children and make everything in your power to prevent them from getting in violent fights and intentionally causeing injuries to others, as California law imposes serious liability on parents of minor children in such situations.

In addition to any liability for negligent supervision of children who cause injury or damage to property, a parent or a guardian is liable under California Civil Code section 1714.1 for intentional miconduct of a child (such as criminal acts, destruction of property, etc.) Any act of a minor which results in injury or death to another person or damage to property will be imputed to the parent for all purposes of civil damages. The parent or guarding having custody (physical custody and not just legal custody required). The liability of a parent for each such act by a minor was originally limited to $25,000.00 when this law was enacted, but is being adjusted by judicial council every two years and is currently at about $35,000.00.

If the insurance coverage applies to the injury or damage caused by a minor, the insurer will not be liable for more than $10,000.00 of the total sum.

Liability is also imposed by statute on parents for the intentional misconduct of children in other situations. These include:

  • intentional act resulting in injury or death to any student or any person employed by performing volunteer services for a school district or private school. Cal. Education Code setion 48904(a);
  • intentional or negligent act by a minor in driving a parent’s vehicle with parent’s express or implied permission. Cal. Vehicle Code section 17150 and 17707;
  • Injury caused by a discharge of a weapon by a minor under 18 years if the parent either permitted the minor to have a firearm or left the firearm in a place accessible to the minor, although such liability is limited to $30,000 for injury to or death of one person per one injured person or $60,000 for injury to or death of all persons involved in a single event. Cal. Civil Code section 1714.3.

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