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Can I Sue a Minor's Parents in South Carolina?

Can I Sue a Minor's Parents in South Carolina?

If you’re a parent, you know what it’s like to be walking around a cute shop filled with valuable items with your small child. You say to your child, “Don’t touch anything because if you break it, I’ll have to pay for it.” If you don’t have kids, you can recall your mom chanting this to you whenever you went into a store.

As children age and become teenagers, the extent of the damage they can cause can be substantial. Suddenly, parents aren’t worried about them breaking a $20.00 trinket at a drug store, they’re worried about them crashing the car, driving into a city fence, or vandalizing school property because they know...if their teen causes a lot of damage, it’s the parents who are going to have to fork over the dough.

Suppose you’re a victim in a sense. A teen could have been texting while driving and they totaled your vehicle and caused you to spend two weeks in a hospital bed. Or, perhaps you’re a parent of a teen yourself and a senior at your kid’s school beat your son up because he “looked at him wrong.” What legal protections do you have in these scenarios? Can you sue the teen’s parents?

South Carolina’s Parental Civil Liability Law

South Carolina’s civil liability law is covered under Section 63-5-60 of the South Carolina Children’s Code. Under Sec. 63-5-60, a parent can be held liable for damages incurred as a result of their son or daughter’s misconduct. That is if the minor is under the age of eighteen and living with the parents and the minor maliciously or willfully caused personal injury to someone, or damaged, destroyed, or stole someone else’s property.

However, recovery is only limited to “actual damages,” meaning a parent or legal guardian cannot be sued for pain and suffering or punitive damages. What’s more, the recovery amount is capped at $5,000, so a parent cannot be sued for more.

“What if it was just an accident?” In that case, you’re out of luck unless it involved a car accident. If you were injured by a teen driver, you would simply file a standard car accident claim against the insurance company and pursue the traditional damages.


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