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Are Florida Parents Liable For Their Minor Children’s Negligence?


Normally, individuals are not held responsible for the negligent actions of third parties unless they have a special relationship, and a parent/child relationship is one of the few that qualifies. This has led to what are known as parental responsibility laws, which exist in some form in almost every U.S. state. Florida has its own, though the circumstances in which parents can be held financially liable for negligent acts of their children are significantly limited. In general, Florida sees the raising of children as a private matter – but where the public good requires it, the state will intervene.

Specific Situations For Liability

Florida does not hold parents responsible for the negligence of their children in most situations, seeing most issues as matters for parents rather than the legal system. However, there are two major exceptions – if a minor child engages in vandalism, or causes a vehicle accident. Vehicle accidents in particular create clear liability on the part of parents, since in order for a minor child to receive their permit or license, a parent must sign off on it and at the same time, agree to cover any costs for car accidents their child may cause.

Vandalism or any other act of “maliciously or willfully destroy[ing] or steal[ing]” certain types of property, including those owned by a school, religious establishment, political entity, or business, will also incur liability on the part of parents. The implication with laying liability at parents’ doors for these two types of negligent actions is that both of them have the potential to injure society as a whole – as such, someone has to bear the cost.

Parental Negligence

In some situations, parents may not be held directly liable for the negligence of their children; rather, they may be held liable for their own negligence at common law. The classic example of this is hosting a party where alcohol is served to minors – while minors may have committed unlawful acts by drinking alcohol, the host of such a party is the one directly responsible for any car accidents that may occur after the fact, because if they had not provided alcohol, the damages would not, at least in theory, have occurred.

Most of the time, if a child causes an accident and injures someone, that person may file suit against both the child and their parents, and if they prevail in court, any award would be jointly payable by parent and child (though as one might imagine, most children do not have enough money to pay a jury award). However, if a parent is tried for their own alleged negligence, their child cannot be touched for any of the money.

Contact A Tampa Automobile Accident Attorney

Parents are not always aware that they are legally liable for any damages their child causes in these situations. If you have been injured due to a minor child’s negligence, contacting an experienced Tampa car accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group may be the first step toward getting the damages you deserve. Call our office today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.



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