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Stories of bullying in the school yard are in the news all too often. Just last month, a 12-year old boy with Asperger's syndrome was beaten so severely, he had to be hospitalized with a jawline fracture, fractured skull, and ear damage.
Often, victims' parents sue the school districts that failed to protect their students or the actual bullies. However, can parents of the bullies also be sued?
In many states, parents can be held civilly liable for their minor children's actions. Parental liability laws don't require parents to prevent every harmful action that their child may do. However, if parents know that their child may cause harm to another person, parents do have a duty to control and prevents those actions.
For example, California's Civil Code Section 1714.1 states, "Any act of willful misconduct of a minor that results in injury or death to another person, or in any injury to the property of another, shall be imputed to the parent or guardian having custody and control of the minor for all purposes of civil damages." This statute only covers damages caused by "willful misconduct" -- acts the child intended to commit -- and not damage caused by the child's negligence or accident. California limits compensation under this code section to $25,000.
Parental Liability Varies by State
While many states have similar parental liability laws, the actions that parents are liable for, and caps on damages, can vary wildly from state to state. A few examples include:
If your child has been bullied and you're thinking about suing his or her parents, an experienced injury lawyer can assess the strength of your case and help you figure out the best way to proceed.