When Can a Parent or Guardian Be Liable for the Actions of Their Children

Parental liability for the actions of minors can always be a sticky issue. However, in certain scenarios, parents or guardians can be held liable for damage(s) caused by the actions of minors. The two most common scenarios where the issue of parental responsibility comes up are auto accidents and vandalism claims.

Parent or guardian liable for negligence and willful or wanton misconduct

In the case of auto accidents, Ohio Revised Code 4507.07 requires that a minor who applies for a license or temporary license must have a parent or guardian cosign the minor’s license. The parent or guardian’s signature imputes liability of the minor for any negligence and willful or wanton misconduct on the parent or guardian. This imputed liability survives any attempted emancipation as well. The code section requires the cosigner of the minor’s license to surrender the physical license and request cancellation of the license. If the cosigner does not surrender the minor’s physical license and request cancellation of said license, the cosigner will remain liable for the negligence of the minor until the minor turns eighteen.

Parent or guardian liable for vandalism or criminal damages

The second most common scenario involves vandalism or criminal damages by a minor. Ohio Revised Code 2307.70 imputes liability upon the parent or guardian of a minor for vandalism, desecration, or ethnic intimidation committed by the minor. This code section imposes a maximum penalty, upon the parent or guardian, of $15,000, plus costs.

Parental responsibility laws

While this provision of the Revised Code applies specifically to vandalism, desecration, or ethnic intimidation, Ohio Revised Code 3109.09 imputes liability on the parent or guardian for the actions of a minor if the minor, “willfully damages property belonging to the owner or commits acts cognizable as a theft offense…involving the property of the owner.” Revised Code 3109.09 opens the door for parental liability on several other types of offenses committed by minors, including theft, but puts a cap on liability at $10,000, plus costs.

Subrogation attorneys

These three code sections serve as the basis for the majority of claims of imputed liability against parents, which is why they are an extremely helpful tool in recovering for losses caused by minors. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a similar matter, contact one of our subrogation attorneys.