Can Parents Be Held Liable for the Wrongful Acts of Their Children?

Historically, parents in Illinois have no legal responsibility for intentional damages caused by their children.

Vandalism, stealing from stores, or injuries to others caused by a child was not the responsibility of a parent. The only exception was where the child was an employee of the parent or acting on behalf of the parent. For example, if the parent told the child to do the wrongful act or to run an errand which resulted in damage to another person or their property.

In 2005, the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law was enacted to make parents at least partially responsible for wrongful acts of their children. Under the new law, a parent may be responsible for the wrongful acts of the child who it is at least 12 years old, but not yet 19 years old, but only for a child's "willful or malicious acts" which cause injury to a person or property. A willful act is one done intentionally and a malicious act is one done intending to do harm.

Damages are limited to $20,000 for each occurrence or $30,000 for each occurrence if there is a pattern (740 I LCS 115).

If you are in need of a juvenile crime advice, contact an experienced Hinsdale family law attorney.

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