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Are Mass. Parents Legally Responsible for Children's Actions?

As a parent you have a certain amount of responsibility for your children's actions. But that extends beyond keeping them safe; you can also be liable if their actions are the subject of a personal injury claim.

Let's say your child injures someone else or damages property. You, as the parent, could be held liable for what your child did. That means there could be a lawsuit against you -- as well as, or instead of, your child.

In addition to personal liability, you could also be responsible for compensating any victims who were harmed by your child. It just depends on what happened.

Of course, this kind of liability is limited to what your child does as a minor. You aren't responsible for any personal injuries caused by your child after he or she turns 18.

But while your kids are still young, you can get in trouble if you are negligent and they end up hurting someone.

How might that happen? If you leave your kids unsupervised with dangerous equipment that they don't know how to use, like a lawn mower, you could be in trouble for negligence. It may also apply if you tell your kids to do something that turns out to be dangerous.

If your children are very young and should be supervised all the time, you could even be held liable for failing to supervise them if they cause damage while you aren't paying attention.

The problem for parents in Massachusetts is that the state expressly doesn't limit a parent's liability for personal injuries caused by a child.

If the damage is worth $100,000 and your negligence contributed to your child's actions, you could be liable for the full $100,000.

The reasoning is that the victim shouldn't be out of luck just because the injury was caused by a kid with no income. If the parents should have averted the injury, then it's their money on the line.

Even if you aren't held personally liable, you could still be responsible for paying costs if your child can't. You may want to contact an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer to get advice about your specific situation.

Problems like this can be averted if you're careful about what you let your child do without supervision. If they complain, just say you're protecting their inheritance.

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