COVID-19 Notice: Malman Law’s staff is working at office & from home so that we can do our part to fight the spread of this virus within our community.Learn more
Please fill out the form below and a representative at Malman Law will contact you within 24 hours to discuss the specifics of your personal injury case.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Parents might be liable for the actions of their child, especially if those actions are negligent or criminal in nature. Typically, parental liability kicks in from the age of eight to when the child reaches adulthood. So, under the basic premise, a parent may be sued for the actions of a minor child.
However, parental liability is much more complicated than this; therefore, it is in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney before assuming that you could sue the parents of a child for something the child did.
The term “parental liability” refers to a parent’s responsibility to pay for damages caused by a minor child. To avoid unnecessary claims, the liability does not usually start until a child is between eight and ten years old (the age when children would know better than to do the acts they did), and goes until the child reaches the age of maturity.
Every state has its laws about a parents’ civil liability based on the acts of his or her children. Parental liability works similarly to employer liability, because parental responsibility falls under the same legal concept known as vicarious liability. When parents are vicariously liable, they are responsible for the damages and injuries caused by their child, even though they did not cause the injuries themselves.
If a child conducts a negligent act, and that negligent act causes injury or harm to another person, the issue of liability will ultimately come up. Under the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law (IPRL), listed in the 740 ILCS 115 of Illinois Compiled Statutes, a parent or legal guardian is legally liable for purposeful or intentional acts that result in the harm or injury of another and were caused by a minor child.
Using the rules of the IPRL, the parent or legal guardian of the minor is liable for actions committed by the minor. Unlike other states, the IPRL starts responsibility at the age of 11 and goes until the child is 19 years old.
If the child has a legal guardian, this individual was appointed guardianship or received custody through the courts. Legal guardian does not apply to a juvenile court-appointed guardian.
Even if the child is between the age of 11 and 19, the parents or legal guardians may not be held liable if the child was legally emancipated from his or her family by an Illinois or other state court of law.
Lastly, for the parent to be considered liable, the minor child must live with that parent or legal guardian. If he or she does not reside in the parents’ or legal guardians’ residence, then they are not in control of the minor; therefore, they cannot be considered liable for the minor’s actions (regardless of age).
If you were injured by a minor, and you are exploring the idea of holding the minor’s parents or legal guardians accountable for the child’s actions, it is important to understand the terms of the IPRL.
The IPRL does not apply to all conduct of a minor that results in injuries or damages. Therefore, your particular injury case may not apply, and you may not have a viable suit against the parent or legal guardian.
Some instances where the parent may not be liable include:
Under the IPRL, a parent is only liable when the minor acts maliciously or willfully, and those actions cause injury or harm to another person. In order to see if that IPRL rule would apply to your case, your personal injury attorney must first assess the minor’s conduct, and determine if that conduct was the result of a negligent act done purposefully.
For example, the minor drank and drove. While he or she was not malicious, he or she broke the law at the time and intentionally drove drunk, knowing that he or she could cause an injury. Therefore, the court may allow the IPRL to apply in this instance – especially if that minor was living with his or her parents at the time, and the parents knew where the minor was going that night.
However, an accident caused by an inattentive teen driver – such as one driving while texting – does not necessarily apply to the IPRL, because that teen was not malicious or willful.
If a parent is found liable under the rules of the IPRL, the parent or legal guardian can only be forced to pay the real and actual damages from the injury.
Therefore, the parent must pay economic damages, such as medical costs, property damage, and more. Non-economic damages and punitive damages, such as pain and suffering, are not the responsibility of the parent under the IPRL. A judge may, however, award a reasonable amount in attorney’s fees to the plaintiff.
The IPRL also limits the damage award in these types of cases. Parental liability is capped at $20,000 for any actual economic damages for the first act. If the child has a history of repeated willful and malicious acts toward others, the parents are then capped at a maximum of $30,000.
While parental liability does not always apply, there are other methods for receiving compensation after a minor causes an injury. For example, a teen driver who causes a motor vehicle accident is not off the hook for these negligent acts.
If the teen driver causes an accident while in the family vehicle, and the teen has a history of accidents of a similar nature in that vehicle, then the parents could be liable for any injuries or damages. In Illinois, this is known as the Family Purpose Doctrine.
Under the Family Purpose Doctrine, the plaintiff can hold the vehicle’s owner liable if a family member causes an accident in that vehicle. The law was designed to overstep the original theory that the owner of the vehicle is not responsible – even if he or she allowed someone to drive the vehicle.
Often, however, this Doctrine is irrelevant in a motor vehicle accident case. After all, the at-fault vehicle was likely covered by an insurance policy, and the teen driver is most likely covered by that auto insurance policy, if he or she is a licensed driver. Therefore, an attorney could seek damages against the automobile insurance company for damages.
If there is no insurance policy on the vehicle, then a personal injury attorney may deploy the Family Purpose Doctrine to protect the client and recover compensation for his or her client’s losses through the vehicle owner’s assets.
You cannot use the Family Purpose Doctrine just because the owner of the vehicle is the driver’s parent. Instead, your attorney must prove that:
The definition of a “family purpose” is not accurately defined in the statute. Defining such is a complex matter that is often left to whichever attorneys can prove that the “family purpose” applied in their case.
Most courts today reject the Family Purpose Doctrine, because they feel it is too broad. Instead, they consider the agency theory more applicable.
Under the agency theory, a vehicle owner can be liable for the negligence of the vehicle’s drivers. The difference between family purpose and agency theory may not be apparent at first, but it is quite important to understand if you are an accident victim.
Under the agency theory, a vehicle’s owner cannot be held liable just because the at-fault driver was a member of the family. Instead, your attorney must show that the driver was acting as an agent. No familial relationship is required in this type of case. Instead, the driver must be doing business for the owner at the time of the accident.
Under the agency theory, here is an example:
If you were injured in an accident with a teen driver, and you are wondering about your options for parental liability, contact an injury attorney from Malman Law today. Our team is here to help you with the complexities of personal injury law, and we will advocate for your right to collect compensation. Schedule an appointment now to discuss your case by calling or contacting us online.
They are very helpful, and when it comes to getting things done with your case I had the pleasure of working with Jason Kellerman he was awesome I highly recommend them.
- Britany Weaver
I’m very pleased to recommend Malman Law to my friends and relatives! I have to mention how efficient and professional in dealing with my case has been with everyone that I’ve been in contact with at Malman Law. Mrs. Sabo is outstanding as well as her secretary and assistant in responding quickly to any of my questions or concerns. This firm has gone above and beyond to keep me updated and get answers to my questions at any time, weekends included! Malman Law rules in my opinion!
- Cheryl Wagemann
I’ve been knowing about this Law firm for many years through friends, referrals & advertisements, never I thought I would need their services because I believed things & situations don’t happen to me like this, long story short I was in a situation that I needed help & advice!!! In the right direction, I connected with the Firm & a very patient, understanding professional woman by the name of Margie assisted me in what I needed 🙂 Thank you I will refer as I was as referred as well This firm really does care!
- Elvira G.
I was rear-ended by a semi-truck on my way to work. I was transported to the hospital and my car was totaled. In the aftermath, Dan Petrich and Anna Schmidt from Malman Law helped me get set up with physical therapy and negotiated with the insurance companies to make sure the resulting settlement would cover my medical bills and a rental car until I could get a new car. I would highly recommend their services.
would do everything they could for me.
- Tony S.
I contacted Malman Lawafter my work injury. So professional from my first phone call. Mr. Malman’s investigator, Dan, came right out to our home. Everything was explained in detail so I know what to expect during this process. I certainly recommend anyone ever in need of a personal injury lawyer to call Malman Law. Truly the best!! Thanks, everyone!
- Devin Jones
Attorney Greg Lamorena was my lawyer when I slipped and fell. He kept me updated throughout the case and was always available to talk when I had questions. He is a great lawyer and could not be happier about my settlement!
- Annie Ong
Alexis was the attorney on my case! She kept me in the loop about everything with my case. If I had any concerns I was able to contact her and she’ll answer my questions right away. If you’re interested in working with Malman Law I would highly recommend Alexis she was GREAT. I would highly recommend Malman Law if you’re ever in need!
- Eugenia Cathery
They are so efficient and professional. Always available to help. Attorney Boyer was great and very good with my case. I really appreciate Malman Law. I gave them 5 stars because there is nothing higher.
- Omolewa Snyder
I have had an amazing experience with Malman law so far. From the start, Dan was super easy to work with, got me the medical attention I needed, and fast. Couldn’t ask for better communication. Neil Kilcoyne has been nothing but the best I could not recommend a better attorney. Malman Law is a 10 out of 10 law firm.
- Trevor Harris
Hi, I just want to acknowledge Jay McCarron, Kelly & the firm at Malman Law for representing me as they continue to work on my case. Thanks for keeping me updated & responding quickly to any of my questions or concerns. I would highly recommend you and your firm to friends & family. E. P.
- Ernest Pitts
Alexis was the attorney on my case and she was GREAT. She made sure I was updated on everything about my case. I would highly recommend Malman Law if you’re ever in need.
- Ariel Fleming
I had the best experience with Jason and Jay attorneys from Malman Law they really went all the way to settle my case I’m telling you there just the best!! Recommend 100%!
- Carmen Rivera
Adam Meadow acted as the attorney for a family member who was in a car accident. He was highly personable and actively listened to our issues throughout the litigation process. He was able to get us a settlement for the reparations of the accident. We would recommend their services!
- Greg Gustafson
Excellent customer service and a great experience. Malman Law handled the whole process and it was very smooth. The settlement was a great success. I would choose Malman Law again in the future.
- Malak St.Clair
Helped me out of a big jam when my auto was hit twice when and the other drivers had no insurance. Adam Meadow is the only Lawyer I will call for helping me and my daughter.
- Devri Lott
I cannot give enough praise to the team at Malman Law, for helping with my case. My children were involved in an auto collision and the attorney Adam along with his paralegal Michelle worked diligently until the matter was resolved and my entire family was happy. I would definitely recommend Malman Law for anybody going through legal troubles.
- Adrian Lopez
A close friend recommended me to Malman Law. I currently have a case with them due to a car accident I had and ever since the accident they have been taking care of everything for me without me having to worry about anything. They took care of the medical bills & helped me get physical therapy right away. I highly recommend them.
- Vanessa Leon
Bella Feinstein, Jason Kellerman, and Terry Davey have been instrumental in helping me through many difficult situations. Not only did they work to get my mom a settlement, but they have also continued to help me through the legal process of relocating my mom to a different state. I’m very grateful for their hard work and good advice.
- Nyah Vuljanic
This law firm is the best they got me paid and Malman Law kept in constant communication with me which meant a lot to me I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone who. In the position, they are awesome sincerely. Jeff walker
- Jeff Walker
Mr. Kellerman of Malman Law shows compassion for his clients. Returns calls and emails promptly, he takes time to listen to his clients, and gather facts accordingly.
- Steve Acosta
Everyone at Malman Law made me feel welcomed and heard. My lawyer, Adam Meadow, as well as staff, kept me up to date and were more than happy to do so! I would highly recommend their services. Also- a plus is many employees are fluent in Spanish. My experience was easy and worthwhile.
- Adrianna Gomez
Dan Petrich was the best man for my case of falling through my porch of an apartment I rented. He made sure I got what I deserved not only $ wise but medical wise and that my hospital bills and Dr bills were left at a $0 balance before closing my case. I was definitely happy and glad I choose him. Thank you. 5 stars
- Jose Cruz
Steve Malman helped me with my auto case. He quickly responded and answered any and all the questions I had. My case was a success as well as 2 other family members I recommended to him won their cases as well. Definitely a 5 star!
- Meagan Cruz
- Eddie Villarreal
I am very impressed with Malman Law and my experience with Tiffany Alberty. She was very professional and knowledgeable. I appreciate the great communication and never felt out of the loop. She was very patient and hard working on my case. I would highly recommend this firm. Thanks for the hard work and all your help!
- Madissen Miller
Malman Law is definitely professionals and skilled at what they do. Mr. Adam Meadow always kept me informed and never hesitated to answer my questions and was open to hearing my concerns. Wouldn’t think twice about referring them to family and friends. Thank you to all at Malman Law!
- Christina Ocon
Mailman Law, Excellent firm!! Tiffany Alberty and her assistant Margie Gallegos were super efficient and knowledgeable. Great communication—very quick response and great follow up! My case was resolved sooner than expected. I highly recommend them!
- Adriana Martinez
So glad I contacted Malman Law regarding my accident. Professional and caring. Thank you Mr. Malman. I most definitely recommend to anyone if you need the best to call Malman Law!!!
- Virgil Sanner
I really appreciated and enjoyed Yennin Calderon’s service. I called asking questions and she was so helpful. Not only did she answer all my questions and concerns. It was also a bonus that she was bilingual in Spanish! Loved the warmth she brought. Thank you!
- Jazlyn Caraballo
My experience with Malman Law was great. I worked with Attorney Tiffany Alberty and her assistant Margie. Both communicated what was going on with my case, explained the next steps, and got my case resolved early. I would highly recommend Malman Law.
- Ashley Jenkins
ALL FIELDS REQUIRED
2 years ago I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet
NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim