Parents must take reasonable steps to properly supervise their children. Failing to do so could result in the parents being liable for the results of wrongful or negligent acts of their children.
For instance, if a child bullies another causing harm to another person, parents could be held liable for the result of the bullying if they did not take reasonable steps to supervise their child. In many cases, insurance will not cover the claim made against the child who is the bully and his/her parents,
Generally, a parent will not be held vicariously liable for the acts of their children simply because there is a parent – child relationship. Vicarious liability is a tort doctrine that imposes responsibility upon one person for the failure of another, with whom the person has a special relationship such as parents and children or employers and employees.
In Ontario, parents can be held liable for the acts of their children through the usual principles of negligence law. In such a case, a parent could be held legally responsible for damage or injury caused by their child if the parent failed to supervise or instruct their child and that failure caused or contributed to the injury or damage allege to have been caused by their child.
As an example, imagine a child uses a bow and arrow owned by their parent and injures another child. The parent could be held liable for failing to properly instruct their child not to use the bow and arrow that was meant to be used by adults or children under supervision in hunting.
As another example, imagine a child bullies another child and the parent is aware that the bullying is occurring. The child being bullied becomes depressed and is unable to attend school and requires treatment for the effects of the bullying. The parent could, under the laws of negligence, be liable for the acts of their child by virtue of the fact that they were aware their child was bullying and took no reasonable steps to prevent it from happening, such as taking disciplinary steps against their child, educating their child, supervising their child’s activities etc…
So, if you are a parent, you have a duty to take reasonable steps to supervise your children’s behaviours. Otherwise, you may be held liable for any injury or damage caused by your child and your insurance policy may not cover the damages claimed against you and your child.
If you have been involved in an incident involving liability of children or parents, we can provide you with a free consultation. Call us at 613-315-4878.
Ottawa child and parent liability lawyers.