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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Are the Parental Responsibility Laws in Personal Injury?

The parental responsibility laws vary from one state to another. Some allow injured victims to recover compensation for the damages caused by a child's intentional acts, while others extend a parent's liability to negligent actions, holding them responsible for the actions of his or her child.


Since children don't have insurance coverage, nearly every state has some form of parental responsibility law. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys understand how complicated personal injury claims can get and have created this guide to help injured victims understand a parent's legal liability. A top personal injury attorney at their firm can also provide guidance on the victim's case and protect their rights.


What Are Parental Responsibility Laws?

What Are Parental Responsibility Laws?


Previously, there was no law that would hold parents liable for the damages caused by their children. This made it difficult for injured victims to recover compensation following their injuries.


Fortunately, the United States later adopted the English common law, which made it possible for the affected parties to pursue claims or lawsuits against the child's parents.


The common law holds the child's parents or guardians responsible for the damages caused if:

  • The child acted in a way that made them an agent of their parent or guardian;

  • The parents were negligent (lack of supervision), which resulted in the harm; or

  • The parent was negligent in trusting their child with a firearm, weapon, or vehicle.


Since children do not have the financial resources to cover any damages arising from their actions, the common law in the United States evolved over time.


Under parental responsibility laws, the parents are now vicariously liable for the injuries or damages caused by their children, and they must pay the affected party.


The parental responsibility laws also ensure that the parents or guardians play a part in the child's upbringing. It assumes that if the parents have to pay the damages caused by their children, they are most likely to take reasonable steps in curbing their child's violent tendencies or preventing them from causing harm to others.


It is important to note that parental responsibility laws vary from one state to the other, and there may be limitations on liability coverage.


What Are Indiana's Parental Responsibility Laws in Personal Injury?


There are several laws in Indiana that hold parents civilly liable for any property damages or bodily injuries caused by their child's actions. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has answers to questions like can I sue a child for personal injury? The three main areas where Indiana's parental responsibility laws focus on are as follows:


Bodily Injury and Property Damage


Under personal injury law, an injured party may be able to pursue a claim or a lawsuit against the negligent party for the injuries caused.


When it comes to proving negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate that a reasonable person would not have acted in the same way as the defendant.


Since the law treats minors differently than adults, an injured victim may be unable to sue a child for their injuries. This is because children cannot distinguish between right and wrong.


However, if the plaintiff is able to demonstrate that a reasonable child would not have acted in the same way, they may be able to bring a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the child's parents.


Besides personal injury law, the Indiana law also addresses the issue of bodily injury and property damage caused by a child.


Section 34-31-4 of the Indiana Code lays down the rules for bringing civil action against the child's parents or guardians for the property damage or bodily harm caused by their child. These include the following:

  • The minor child is in the custody of their parents or guardians

  • The minor child is living with their parents or guardians.


Under Section 34-31-4 of the Indiana Code, a parent or guardian may be responsible for the property damage or bodily harm caused by their child's actions. However, most states limit parental liability by placing conditions, and these are as follows:

  • The child was aware of the risks involved and caused the harm intentionally or recklessly, and

  • The non-economic damages are capped at $5,000.


Gang-related Violence


Section 2 of the Indiana Code Section 34-31-4 is a statute that aims to reduce gang-related violence in the state. To encourage parents to play an active role in their child's life, the law does not place any restrictions or limitations on the non-economic damages.


Injured victims may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the child's parents for the damages caused by their child due to their involvement in criminal activities.


Under this Indiana statute, they can not only recover out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage, but also non-economic damages, like emotional trauma, mental anguish, and reduced quality of life.


There are three conditions under Section 2 of Indiana Code Section 34-31-4 that help determine whether civil parental liability exists in the event of a child causing harm to others or destroying property in a gang-related activity. These are as follows:

  • The minor child is in the custody of their parents or guardians;

  • The minor child is currently living with their parents or guardians, and

  • The parents or guardians didn't take reasonable measures to prevent their child from getting involved in a gang or gang-related activities.


Driving

When a minor applies for a permit or driver's license in Indiana, the law requires parents to sign the relevant documents.


The Indiana Code Section 9-24-9-4 states that any parent or guardian who signs on a minor's permit or license documentation agrees to be held liable for any damages caused by the child when operating a motor vehicle.


There is a way where the parent or guardian can relieve themselves from legal responsibility. They must submit a verified written request that eliminates parental liability and also immediately suspends the child's permit or driver's license.


What Is the Age of Majority in Indiana?

What Is the Age of Majority in Indiana?


According to the parental liability statutes, the age of majority in Indiana is 18 years old. Parents may be responsible for any injuries or damages caused by their children if they are below the age of 19. The Indiana rules do not apply to parents or guardians who have children over the age of 18. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for any questions regarding accidents and injuries involving children.


Personal Injury Law Can Be Complex. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help!


Those who have suffered injuries due to the actions of minor children or those parents whose children have suffered injuries should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be eligible for compensation.

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