Is a Parent Liable for the Bad Acts (Negligent Acts or Intentional Acts) of a Child Causing Injury to Another Person?

Scales of Jusice - Red White and BlueUnder Florida law, a parent may be liable for the bad acts whether they are negligent acts or intentional acts of a child.  However, it should be made clear that a parent is not automatically liable or responsible based on the parent – child relationship.  In the State of Florida, the case on point is Gissen v. Goodwill, 80 So.2d 701 (Supreme Court of Florida 1955).  In Gissen, the Supreme Court of Florida noted the circumstances in which a parent may be held liable for the bad acts of a child as follows:
1 – The parent entrusts an instrumentality to the child which because of the child’s age, judgment or experience may be a source of danger to others.  Examples of such an instrumentality may be a dirt motor bike, a lawnmower, a gun, etc. . .
2 – The child is acting as an agent or servant on behalf of the parent at the time that the tort is committed.
3 – The parent knows about the bad or dangerous conduct of the child and the parent directs or sanctions such acts.
4 – The parent failed to exercise reasonable and necessary parental control or supervision of the child and the parent knew or should have known of the dangerous acts or potential dangerous acts of the child.
It should also be noted that a child may be covered under an applicable automobile insurance policy, homeowner’s insurance policy, and other liability insurance policies depending on the language and terms of the insurance policy.
Another concept that may be applicable under Florida law is the liability or negligence of the child himself of herself.  In the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable as a matter of law.  Children who are 6 years of age and older can be held to be liable or negligence.  The conduct of the child is judged based on the child’s age, education, and maturity.  For instance, the conduct of a 7 year old is judged and evaluated much differently that the conduct of a 17 year old.
When a child is injured as the result of negligent or intentional acts of another person (adult or child), the parents of the injured child should seek out legal advice to find out the injured child’s legal rights.   David Wolf is an attorney with over 25 years of experience. He has dedicated his career to the rights of injury victims and their families.  Children, who are injured, deserve to have a voice with the insurance companies and in court.  David Wolf is the author of 5 books including the book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled Bikes, Trikes and Automobiles – Legal Rights of the Injured Cyclist.  Contact David Wolf to discuss your child’s rights and get the help you need now. Get these books for free at The ABCs of Child Injury and Bikes, Trikes and Automobiles.