Are Parents Liable for Injuries Caused by Their Child’s Bullying?
Over the past few years, bullying at school has become a very heated subject of debate. While many parents and teachers are quick to dismiss bullying as simply kids being kids, many studies have shown that bullying can have some very serious long-term effects on the victim. Psychological effects of bullying can include depression and anxiety, which can potentially last into adulthood. But when bullying turns physically violent, the victim can end up suffering from serious injuries. So if your child is injured by a bully, who is liable?
In many cases, parents can be held legally liable for the actions of their minor child. Parental liability laws can be significantly different from state to state. In Michigan, the law is that parents can be held liable for “maliciously or willfully destroyed real, personal, or mixed property” and “maliciously or willfully caused bodily harm or injury to a person.” Therefore, if a child is injured by another child who was clearly acting maliciously, the parent of the bully could potentially be held liable for their child’s actions.
Under Michigan’s parental liability laws, parents are liable for up to $2,500 worth of damages caused by their child. However, this isn’t necessarily always an absolute limit. In some situations, parents could be held liable for a higher amount of damages if they were acting negligently. For example, if a child is injured by a bully who has a reputation for hurting other children and the parent ignored repeated warnings from teachers, you may be able to make a case for higher damages based on negligence. Another example would be if the parent was present while the child was bullying another and they did nothing to put a stop to it before someone got hurt.
If a child is injured by a bully while at school, it’s important to consult a personal injury lawyer because liability can get more complicated when schools are involved. Schools have a responsibility to make sure students are as safe as possible during the school day. While it’s very possible for kids to accidentally get hurt during the day and there are some types of accidents schools can’t be held liable for, schools have a responsibility to prevent things that could reasonably be seen as dangerous.
Under this rule, if a child is injured by something like poorly maintained playground equipment or dangerous building conditions, the school could be liable. If a child is injured by a bully and teachers were aware of the bullying but failed to stop it, that’s another situation where the school might also be liable in addition to the bully’s parents. Suing a school can be more complicated than suing another person, so it’s best to have a lawyer help you through the process.