Can Georgia Parents Be Held Liable for Their Children’s Actions?

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Our injury law firm specializes in serious injury work in the metropolitan Atlanta area and around Georgia. Occasionally, we see serious injuries done to people which are caused by minors, defined as children under the age of 18. A natural question arises: Can the parents of the child, who presumably failed to control or restrain the child, be held financially responsible?

Obviously, this issue is tricky. One the one hand, we want parents to be responsible and teach their children proper behavior. And, we want parents to control children, when possible. On the other hand, we certainly don’t want every parent to be held liable for anything a child of any age might do–that seems a little harsh.

The Georgia legislature has taken at least one step, although small, at providing a remedy for people injured at the hands of a minor child. Note that the below-cited statute is limited to intentional acts. Therefore, if a child is driving a car, for example, and negligent injures someone, the usual rules apply and the usual insurance policy will likely be available.

When a minor commits a willful tort, O.C.G.A.§ 51-2-3 (a) provides:

Every parent or guardian having the custody and control over a minor child or children under the age of 18 shall be liable in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 plus court costs for the willful or malicious acts of the minor child or children resulting in reasonable medical expenses to another, damage to the property of another, or both reasonable medical expenses and damage to property.

 

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