As parents, we assume responsibility for our children. We provide shelter, clothing, food, education, love, and guidance. However, the law also requires us to take responsibility for our child’s actions. If our child harms another person or damages property, the Ontario government believes we should be held personally and financially liable for the damages.
Parental Liability Law
In 2000, the Parental Responsibility Act was passed making parents legally liable for the actions of their children. Under the Act, parents can be sued in Small Claims Court if their child causes damage or destroys property. The maximum claim under this section is $10,000. Therefore, if your child goes to your neighbour’s home and damages personal property, your neighbour may have a claim under the Parental Responsibility Act. The Act also provides for civil litigation outside of the Small Claims Court.
The Act does provide a defence for parents who can prove that they were adequately supervising the child. The Act sets forth ten factors for the Judge to consider when deciding liability:
- The age of the child at the time of the incident;
- Any prior conduct of the child;
- The potential danger associated with the action;
- The mental and physical capacity of the child;
- Whether the child has any medical disorders or psychological disorders;
- If the child was under the parent’s direct supervision at the time of the act;
- Did the parent act reasonably to make arrangements for the child’s supervision;
- Whether the parent has tried to improve parenting skills;
- If the parent has retained a professional to assist with the child’s behaviour; and,
- All other matters the court considers relevant to the case.
Deciding whether a parent is responsible for a child’s actions can be very tricky, especially if the child is a teenager who causes a car accident. An experienced lawyer should be consulted to determine if a lawsuit under the Parental Responsibility Act is warranted.
Legal Issues in Cases Involving Children
It can be difficult to handle personal injury cases involving a child because there are several legal issues that must be addressed. As discussed above, the Parental Responsibility Act can come into play if a child is responsible for the act that caused your injury. On the other hand, if the child is injured, there are also legal issues to be addressed.
Because a child cannot receive large sums of money, a guardian must be appointed to receive settlements in personal injury cases. This person is often a parent of the injured child; however, not always. There are some cases where another person may serve as the child’s representative in a settlement.
Personal injury cases involving children can involve complex litigation that requires the expertise of a lawyer who understands personal injury laws related to children. Calculating the value of a personal injury claim involving a child can also be very difficult. You need an experienced lawyer to ensure your child is not treated unfairly by the insurance company for the other party.
Call an Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
If you or your child has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the at-fault party. The team of lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have experience handling a variety of personal injury cases.
Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT for a free case evaluation and no-obligation legal consultation. You may also request additional information by visiting our website to speak to someone now.