All states have some laws that deal with parents’ liability for the civil damages or criminal actions of their children. The exact laws vary by state, but in general, a parent is liable up to a certain amount for civil damages caused by the actions of their children when the child is a minor over a certain age. This often comes to attention when a child accidentally injures another person or causes damage to someone’s personal property on accident or on purpose. One of the more serious situations involves gunshot injuries, and there are multiple laws that may need to be considered, depending on the situation.
Access to a firearm is a serious situation for minor children under the law. If a child has unrestricted access to firearms outside of certain supervised settings, and the child injures someone, then this could be considered criminal negligence on behalf of the parent for allowing access. In other situations, the minor child may be legally in possession of a firearm, such as a hunting or firearms safety class or a supervised shooting range. Certain firearms recreation, such as skeet shooting, may also apply.
If a child accidentally shoots someone in such a situation, then the parent will have several factors to consider. One will be any insurance coverage provided by the facility or program where the shooting occurred that may cover some of the damages. If there is no such coverage, then the parent should be prepared to face a personal injury lawsuit for the damages sustained. The lawsuit will be brought against the parent. A lawsuit can be very financially damaging for a person or family. One of the best protections is homeowners’ insurance, that may cover the cost of such damages even if the event took place away from the home.
Having legal representation for such a lawsuit is very important in almost all circumstances. No personal injury lawsuit is ever minor, and the expenses in such a lawsuit, when medical bills and lost wages are considered, can easily reach hundreds of thousands of dollars or more and may continue for months after the initial incident. An attorney may be able to support a person in this difficult situation. The attorney could provide ongoing legal advice, inform the client of any options they have, help them reach a settlement or argue the case if it goes to court. Contact attorney Bryan Caulfield today to ensure you and your child are adequately protected.
Source: FindLaw, “Parental Liability Basics,” March 6, 2015.