A parental responsibility law is a civil statute that makes a parent potentially liable for certain acts committed by a minor child. In this article, we’ll spotlight the most important aspects of Idaho’s parental responsibility law -- including the kinds of conduct covered by the statute, and the types of damages that a parent may be on the legal hook for in Idaho.
When Does the Idaho Law Apply?
Under Idaho Statutes section 6-210, a parent (or anyone who has legal custody of a minor) can be held liable when a minor child “willfully causes” economic loss to a person, business, or other entity, as long as the child is a minor under the age of 18 and is living with the parent or guardian.
What Kind of Acts are Covered by the Idaho Law?
The key here is that the child’s action must be “willful” in order for the parent’s liability to arise under the Idaho statute. That means the law doesn’t apply to car accidents or other mishaps. The child must have intended to do what he or she did, to some measurable extent.
What Kind of Damages is a Parent Liable for Under Idaho Law?
If a parent or guardian’s liability is triggered under Idaho law, section 6-210 makes clear that the kinds of damages that could be available include:
- the value of the property that was taken, destroyed, broken or otherwise damaged
- the plaintiff’s lost wages, and
- the plaintiff’s other direct out-of-pocket losses or expenses, including medical expenses resulting from the minor's conduct.
But a crucial caveat to all this is that a parent’s liability is limited to $2,500 under section 6-210. The law also states that the parent’s liability does not extend to compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. Learn more about Personal Injury Damages.
Parents May Be Liable Beyond What the Idaho Statute Says
It’s important to keep in mind that parental liability could arise in a number of other scenarios that fall outside the purview of this particular Idaho statute.
Parents can still be considered liable as a result of injuries caused by their child’s careless or intentional actions, under traditional “common law” principles of liability. For example, a parent could face a personal injury lawsuit for negligence if they fail to take reasonable steps to properly supervise a child and prevent foreseeable harm when they know -- or should know of a child's "dangerous propensities." Learn more about Proving Fault for an Accident or Injury.