Parents Can Be Liable for the Actions of Their Children

Did you know that you, as a parent, can be held civilly liable for the intentional acts of your unemancipated child?  The “age of majority” in Massachusetts is 18.   In terms of parental liability, M.G.L. c. 231, § 85G provides that “[p]arents of an unemancipated child under the age of eighteen and over the age of seven years shall be liable in a civil actions for any willful act committed by said child which results in injury or death to another person or damage to the property of another ….”  (emphasis added).  The statute does not, however, apply to a parent who, as a result of a court decree, does not have custody of such child at the time of the commission of the tort.  Financial exposure for such liability “shall be limited to the amount of proved loss or damage but in no event shall it exceed five thousand dollars.”

Author: Barry M. Ryan, Esq.