As a parent, you’re probably aware that you’re legally and morally responsible for many, if not all, of your child’s actions. When your child is young, this is not a big deal, but when he or she reaches their teen years, it takes on a whole new meaning.
Like other states, Texas has passed laws that make parents civilly liable for destructive or harmful acts committed by their children. For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on parental responsibility in relation to property damage caused by their children. However, at the end we’ll briefly discuss personal injuries.
What the Law Says
Under Section 41.001 of the Texas Family Code, parents and legal guardians are responsible for controlling and applying reasonable discipline upon a child. Under Sec. 41.001, parents are only responsible for property damage caused by their children. This particular statute does not address a parent’s liability when their child causes bodily injuries to another.
Under Sec. 41.001, a parent is liable for their child’s negligent conduct when the result is property damage. For example, if a teenager throws a cinder block into someone’s car, destroying the window and scratching up the interior, the child’s parents would be held liable for the damages. In order for the parent to be liable, the child has to be under the age of 18.
What parents are liable for:
- The child’s willful and malicious conduct.
- A maximum of $25,000 in damages.
- The innocent party’s legal fees.
Even though Sec. 41.001 does not address civil liability for personal injuries caused by minors, that does not mean parents are off the hook. If a child intentionally injures someone else; for example, in a fight, the parents can still face civil liability and a personal injury lawsuit for any injuries caused by their child’s actions.