Arizona personal injury lawyers know that a certain amount of mischief is an inevitable (maybe even necessary) part of growing up. Nevertheless, there are cases where children intentionally or negligently cause serious harm and at moments like that, it can be critical to have the guidance of an Arizona personal injury lawyer.
One very common question that Arizona personal injury lawyers get when a child hurts someone is: Are the parents liable for the actions of the child? Generally speaking, the answer is no. It has long been the law that the parental relationship does not impose automatic liability on the parents. This is the general rule, regardless of what kind of tort the child commits, whether it was intentional or negligent, or how severe the harm was.
Arizona Personal injury Lawyers know here are exceptions to this rule. One is the doctrine of parental neglect. The basic theory behind parental neglect is that parents have a duty to teach and rear their children responsibly, to assure that they do not cause harm to others. Specifically, the doctrine of parental neglect allows a victim to sue a child’s parents for the torts of the child if the parent(s) knows or should know that (1) there is a need to control the child to prevent harm to another person and (2) they are in a position to control their child to prevent the harm.
Many times, an inured victim will have to show that the child had previously demonstrated harmful similar behavior. For example, if a child’s parents are aware that a child sometimes reacts to frustration with a punch or a kick, it is unlikely the parents would be responsible if the child committed arson or murder, but might be held liable if the child assaulted someone.
If a victim can establish these elements, parental liability for a child’s torts is evaluated just like any other claim of negligence, i.e., the injury must be the direct result of the parent’s lack of supervision or control and it must be reasonably foreseeable from the parents’ point of view. Still, these cases can be complex, so it’s a good idea to seek help from an Arizona personal injury lawyer.
In addition, Arizona Revised Statues §12-661 states:
A. Any act of malicious or wilful misconduct of a minor which results in any injury to the person or property of another, to include theft or shoplifting, shall be imputed to the parents or legal guardian having custody or control of the minor whether or not such parents or guardian could have anticipated the misconduct for all purposes of civil damages, and such parents or guardian having custody or control shall be jointly and severally liable with such minor for any actual damages resulting from such malicious or wilful misconduct.
B. The joint and several liability of one or both parents or legal guardian having custody or control of a minor under this section shall not exceed ten thousand dollars for each tort of the minor. The liability imposed by this section is in addition to any liability otherwise imposed by law.
It is crucial to understand that torts committed by children is a less developed area of the law than many others, and therefore the rules can sometimes be unclear. It is especially important to have the guidance of an Arizona personal injury lawyer with extensive experience dealing with these issues.