When it comes to personal injury cases, most people are familiar with the general concept that such claims allow injured victims to hold the parties responsible for their accidents and injuries financially liable for their damages – including their pain and suffering, lost income, and medical expenses, among other losses. In some cases, this means filing claims and lawsuits directly against the at-fault party, and/or against the employer of an individual who caused the victim harm (such as a trucking company which employed a trucker who drove negligently and caused a truck accident).
These issues of liability are relatively straightforward – negligent individuals and companies that employ them can be held liable for victims’ injuries. However, cases involving negligent children and issues of civil parental liability are not always so simple.
Parental Liability in Florida
In Florida, the general rule is that parents are not responsible for the negligence of their children. Although cases can vary depending on the facts and circumstances, parental liability generally only becomes a possibility when parents themselves are negligent in the supervision of their children who, as a result of that parental negligence, cause injuries to another.
One example of parents being held liable for the conduct of their child can be illustrated by the Florida case of Seabrook v. Taylor. In that personal injury case, a 14-year-old boy and another child got into a fight over a basketball game. That argument escalated into the child going home and taking a gun owned by his parents which was left in an unlocked closet. The 14-year-old boy then used the firearm to shoot two of his friends. In the lawsuit, the family of one of the victims alleged that the parents were negligent in storing the gun in a location where it could be easily accessed by their minor child. Following trial, the jury held that the parents were negligent and awarded a substantial verdict to the victim based on their negligence as parents.
In addition to scenarios like this, there are other potential situations where parents can be held liable for the actions of their children. This includes auto accidents involving children under the age of 18. In Florida, state law permits minors under 18 to obtain a driver’s license only when their parents sign license applications providing their consent. By signing such an application, parents indicate their willingness to assume responsibility for their child when they are negligent behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and that they can be held financially liable for any damages victims sustain as a result of car accidents caused by the minor driver.
Protecting the Rights of Victims Throughout Florida
At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman, our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers have earned a reputation for successfully protecting the rights of seriously injured victims throughout the state of Florida, particularly in difficult cases involving complex issues of liability. If you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence or wrongful acts of a minor, our legal team has the experience and resources to investigate your case and determine whether civil parental liability may apply. We also have the experience to fight for victims of drunk driving accidents involving parents who provided a minor motorist with alcohol.
If you would like more information about your rights following a serious injury, please call 561-899-2100 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Our firm serves clients throughout Palm Beach County and the state of Florida.