Under parental responsibility laws, which are on the books in most states, parents and/or legal guardians may find themselves financially responsible for certain kinds of damages caused by their minor children. Every state's law is different on the subject -- some extend liability to accidents, while others limit parental responsibility to intentional acts -- and in this article we'll cover what you need to know about Nevada’s parental responsibility laws.
What are Nevada’s Parental Responsibility Laws?
Nevada’s parental responsibility laws focus on four main areas:
- a minor child's willful acts (covered by Nevada Rev. Statutes section 41.470)
- harm caused by a minor's use of firearms (covered by Nevada Rev. Statutes section 41.472)
- damage caused by a minor's use of an automobile (covered by ), and
- damage caused by a minor's riding a motorcycle (covered by Nevada Rev. Statutes section 486.101).
A minor is any person who is under the age of majority. Like most states, Nevada sets the age of majority at 18. So, the statutes discussed below only apply to the custodial parents/guardians of children who are under 18.
Let's take a closer look at each of these Nevada statutes.
Parental Responsibility for Willful Acts of a Minor in Nevada
Under Nevada Rev. Statutes section 41.470, parents and guardians are responsible for any damages that result from a minor's "willful misconduct." An action is considered willful if the person intended to take it, although it is probably not necessary to prove that the minor also intended to cause the specific harm that resulted.
Liability is broad under this statute. It extends to property damage, bodily injury, or even death. So if a minor throws a brick through the window of a building, and the brick strikes and injures a person inside the building, the parent or guardian will be responsible for the cost of replacing the broken window and for any medical expenses the injured person may incur. BUT a parent's liability is limited to $10,000 under 41.470.
Liability under section 41.470 is joint and several. In other words, a victim may recover the full amount of damages from the parent and child collectively, or from either one of them individually.
Parental Responsibility for Damage Caused by Firearm Use in Nevada
Under Nevada Rev. Statutes section 41.472, parents, guardians, or any person legally responsible for a minor can be liable for damages caused by the minor's negligent or willful misuse of a firearm. There are some prerequisites to liability. To be liable, the parent guardian, or other person must:
- know the minor has been adjudicated delinquent or been convicted of a crime, or
- know the minor has a propensity toward violence, or
- know, or have reason to know, the minor intends to use the firearm for unlawful purposes and
- allow the minor to use or possess the firearm.
Liability, again, is joint and several. However, there is no limit on damages under 41.472. Parents can be held financially responsible for any and all medical bills and other losses stemming from the minor's use of a firearm.
Parental Liability for Harm Caused by Driving an Automobile
In Nevada, Nevada Rev. Statutes section 483.300 requires a parent, guardian, employer, or any responsible person to sign a minor’s application for a driver’s license or instruction permit. And if the minor, through any act of negligence, or willful misconduct, causes damage while driving, liability will be imputed to the person who signed the minor's application. So, parents and guardians can be on the legal hook for all injuries and damage resulting from a car accident caused by a minor driver whose license application they signed.
Parental Liability for Harm Caused by Riding a Motorcycle
Similarly, Nevada Rev. Statutes section 486.101 requires a parent, guardian, employer, or any responsible person to sign a minor’s application for a motorcycle driver's license. As with operating an automobile, liability for damages caused by a minor's negligent or willful misconduct while riding a motorcycle is imputed to the person who signed the application.
Parents in Nevada May Still Be Liable Under "Common Law"
Even in cases where Nevada's parental responsibility laws do not apply, parents may find themselves financially responsible for their children’s actions, under a non-statutory set of secondary authority known as the "common law."Essentially, parents who know their child has a propensity to act recklessly or carelessly may, generally, be expected to take reasonable steps to prevent that child from causing foreseeable harm to others. Learn more about Accidents and Injuries Involving Children.