Bullying is a growing problem here in the United States. In February 2015, there was a 12-year-old boy who suffered from Asperger's syndrome who was hospitalized after being beaten so badly. He suffered ear damage, a fractured skull and a jawline fracture. This was all after the parents notified the district of the bullying that was taking place. When something like this happens, the parents of the victim will often want justice. After all, most parents expect that school districts keep their children safe from other students (bullies) and other acts of nature. One things many parents are still curious about is whether the parents of the bullying child can be sued along with the school district.
Basics of Parental Liability
In a number of states, parents can be held liable for their children's actions in civil court. Parents are not expected to keep their children from preventing every single harmful action that they could do. However, parents are expected to control and prevent harmful actions that they are aware of. This is particularly true when those harmful actions are directed toward another individual.
As an example, California has a law that states that parents or guardians can be held responsible for all purposes regarding civil damages if any act of willful misconduct is performed and results in the injury or death of another individual. Willful misconduct will refer to harmful acts that the child or bully intended to commit, so any damage that occurs by accident are not covered. California's Civil Code limits monetary damages to $25,000.
Parental Liability Does Vary by State
As with all laws, parental liability laws vary from one state to the next. This includes caps on damages as well as the particular actions that parents and guardians can be held liable for. Here are a couple of examples of state variations of parental liability:
- Hawaii – Here, the parental liability includes intentional actions, but it is extended to children's negligent actions as well. There is no cap on potential damages that parents can be required to pay.
- Indiana – Here, if a child commits harmful acts while part of a gang, the child's parents can be held liable for any and all damages that arise from those activities and actions. However, it will have to be proven that the parents benefit from their child being part of the gang or that they actively encourage the behavior.
- Tennessee – Here, parents can be held responsible for as much as $10,000 of damages that their child causes. However, this cap does not apply if the parents should have known or did know of the potential tendency to cause property damage or inflict harm on another person and failed to control their child.
If your child has become the victim of a bully and you want to sue his or her parents, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to fully assess the strength of your civil case and help you determine the best possible way to move forward.
To learn more, contact a law firm like Metropolitan Lawyer Referral Service Inc.