When Is A Parent Liable For Their Child's Negligence?

Metro Detroit Personal Injury Lawyer 


In yesterday's post, we discussed under what circumstances a child could be held liable for their own acts of negligence. Today we tackle the issue of when and under what circumstances a parent can be liable for the acts of their children. 

Liability Of Parents For Their Children's Negligence Under Michigan Law

At common law, a parent is not vicariously liable for the negligence of their children. However, the Michigan legislature has enacted statutes establishing parental liability under some circumstances. MCL 600.2913 states: 


"A municipal corporation, county, township, village, school district, department of the state, person, partnership, corporation, association, or an incorporated or unincorporated religious organization may recover damages in an amount not to exceed $2,500.00 in a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the parents or parent of an unemancipated minor, living with his or her parents or parent, who has maliciously or wilfully destroyed real, personal, or mixed property which belongs to the municipal corporation, county, township, village, school district, department of the state, person, partnership, corporation, association, or religious organization incorporated or unincorporated or who has maliciously or wilfully caused bodily harm or injury to a person."


Under the statute, a parent is only liable for the tortious conduct of their children when the conduct is malicious or willful. The statute does not hold a parent liable for their child's mere carelessness or negligence. Rather, this statute only holds parents liable when the child has a clear intent to harm or cause injury. Michigan places a strict limit on how much a parent will be held liable. The amount under MCL 600.2913 shall "not exceed $2,500.00." 

Parent Can Still Be Held Liable for Negligent Supervision

A parent can still be deemed liable if he or she fails to properly supervise a child. Liability here arises out of a parent's own negligence in failing to properly monitor a child. However, under negligent supervision a parent is only liable for resulting harm caused by their child if they knew or should have known of a child's dangerous tendencies, and fail to take reasonable steps to control the child or prevent him or her from harming others. 

Moreover, a parent could be liable for their children's negligence under some other statute, such as the owner liability statute, which imposes liability on the owner of a motor vehicle for any injuries caused by any person driving the vehicle with the owner’s express or implied consent or knowledge.

If you believe your child may have negligently caused injury, you should contact your homeowners insurance company to see if they are be covered under your homeowners insurance policy, as well as consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. 

Metro Detroit Injury Lawyers is a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm practicing personal injury law. Contact us today at 248-430-8929 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case, with no obligation.