Parents and caregivers of children have a legal duty to supervise children under their care. Negligent supervision of children can create a legal issue when a child hurts him or herself or when a child causes harm to someone else because no adult was watching them. In these cases, the adult that was supposed to be watching them can be held liable.
Negligent Caregivers and Harm to Children
When a parent leaves their child in another person’s care, they are placing a huge amount of trust in that person to keep their child safe. Caregivers — like daycare attendants, babysitters, nannies, teachers, coaches, and camp counselors — have a responsibility to safeguard children under their care. When caregivers fail to take reasonable steps to keep a child under their care safe, they have breached a legal duty and are liable for whatever harm is caused to the child as a result. Whether a caregiver acted unreasonably is a question of fact that must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Georgia Parental Liability Laws
The other category of cases involving negligent supervision of children occurs when a child causes an injury to someone else. If a child was under the care of a daycare provider, teacher, guardian, or any other person with a legal duty to watch over the child at the time of the injury, then that party may be found liable to the person that was harmed. In all other instances, Georgia law holds parents vicariously liable for the wrongful acts of their children. This type of liability is not tied to a parent’s negligent supervision, but rather to the child’s actions. However, negligent supervision and parental vicarious liability are issues that are often closely tied together.
Under Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 2 Section 2, parents are liable for negligent and intentional torts committed by their children. Unsupervised children can cause harm in myriad ways because they lack mental and emotional maturity. Georgia courts have determined that liability under that § 51-2-2 extends to auto accidents caused by children under the “family purpose doctrine.” This means that, generally, whenever a minor causes an accident while driving the family vehicle, the parents can be held liable.
The Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 2 Section 3 additionally holds that parents are liable for the “willful and malicious” conduct of their children “in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 plus court costs.” Because damages are capped at $10,000 for willful and malicious conduct, but not for negligent acts, it is important to have cases carefully evaluated to ensure that the proper statute applies. It is also important to note that § 51-2-3 states that it is not intended to provide a restrictive remedy, meaning that parents can be liable for the willful and malicious conduct of their children beyond the $10,000 limit if other theories of liability also apply.
For More Information, Contact Williams Elleby
If you would like more information about this issue, or if you would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby, to schedule a free consultation today by calling 833-LEGALGA.