Can You Hold Parents Liable for Bullying at School?

School bullying takes many forms, from name calling and harassment to internet and cyber bullying. In many cases, cyber bullying can be even worse than physical bullying because of the anonymity and breadth associated with it. Cyber bullying may come in many forms, such as malicious online messages, harassment, sharing private or indecent photographs, or posting false information in a public forum.

Under California law, parents can be civilly liable – and in some cases criminally liable – for their children’s bullying, depending upon how far the bullying goes. If your child has been a victim of bullying at school, the bully’s parents may be liable for any damages sustained or injuries incurred. Our Huntington Beach personal injury lawyers have the legal knowledge and skills necessary to confront school bullying head-on and to hold the proper parties accountable.

California Parental Responsibility Laws

California’s parental liability laws hold parents liable for the willful misconduct of their minor children. Specifically, the California statute states as follows:

Any act of willful misconduct of a minor that results in injury or death to another person, or in any injury to the property of another may be imputed to the parent or guardian having custody and control of the minor for all purposes of civil damages.

The California statute also states that the custodial parent or guardian may be held jointly liable with the minor for the minor’s willful misconduct, for an amount not to exceed $25,000 for each wrongful act. While this $25,000 limit can include compensation for medical bills and treatment, it cannot include compensation for non-economic damages like pain, suffering, emotional distress, or mental anguish.

Definition of ‘Willful Misconduct’

Under the statute, “willful misconduct” means that the minor did something on purpose and requires that the minor child intended to act “beyond the level of mere negligence.”

California law also subjects parents and guardians to potential criminal liability for the acts of their minor children. Specifically, the law requires parents to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over their children, and failing to do so can result in a misdemeanor criminal charge and a potential jail sentence.

Parental Responsibility for Injury or Death Caused by a Minor Child

Under California law, a parent may be liable for an injury or death caused by a minor child if both of the following circumstances hold true:

  • The parental negligence made it possible for the child to cause the injury.
  • The parental negligence made it probable that the child would act in the way he or she did.

Evidence of parental knowledge can be proven by either direct or circumstantial evidence at trial.

Contact a Huntington Beach Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

School bullying and harassment can have significant short and long-term effects on child victims. Fortunately for victims, it may be possible to obtain compensation for the parents of children who harm others. To discuss your case, contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of Brent W. Caldwell by calling 714-735-4379, or contact us online.