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When do the courts think you are legally responsible for your child's actions?

When your child grows up and is finally ready to leave the nest, all kinds of worries may start to creep up. How will he or she adjust to college? Will he or she be safe? Will they get into trouble somehow? Will they drive after partying with their friends? Will they drive drunk?

It is not every day a parent has to face lawsuits due to their child’s actions. However, it is possible in Chicago and other parts of the country thanks to the unfortunate reality of kids doing stupid things such as drinking and driving. Is there a chance that a lawsuit will come back to your home, faster than your child does?

Do you share the liability of the accident with your son or daughter?

According to Willens personal injury attorneys, under the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law parents are typically not held liable for their minor children unless the children commit “willful or malicious acts” that cause injury to another person or to property.

In section 740 ILCS 115 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, it states any parent or legal guardian can be held legally liable for the intentional acts of a minor child that results in injury or harms another person. As per the rules of the IPRL, the legal guardian is responsible for the actions for all children between the ages of 11 years and 19 years. However, if Illinois has emancipated the child from his or her family, the vicarious liability does not apply to the parent or the legal guardian. Also in Illinois there is a cap on parental liability damages under this law.

However, in the state of Illinois, it is mandatory for the child to be residing with the parent or guardian for the court to hold the latter responsible. If the child in question does not live in the adult's residence, but lives in his or her own apartment or college dorm, then the parents or guardians could not be held responsible for the minor's actions regardless of their age.

Can parent be liable outside of Illinois Parental Responsibility Law?

Yes, it is possible. Illinois Parental Responsibility Law is not intended to be an all encompassing “catch all” law. The parent or guardian may still be held liable for their children’s actions under more basic civil law fault principles.

An example where liability may apply in this case is if parents have been negligent and complicit in their children’s behavior that led to the accident. For example as a parent, you might be liable if you have entrusted your child to drive an automobile with complete knowledge of his or her recklessness or incompetence as a driver. 

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