Charleston Personal Injury Attorney | Parental Laws in SC

Charleston Personal Injury Attorney . Like almost every other state, South Carolina has enacted a statute known as a “parental responsibility law.” These are civil laws that can be used to hold a parent or legal guardian financially accountable for certain injuries or damages their minor children cause. Often, the minor must act intentionally or maliciously in order to trigger parental liability. But a few states impose parental liability for accidents as well.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the specific rules laid out in South Carolina’s parental responsibility law.

Parental Liability for Property Damage and Injury in South Carolina

In South Carolina, if a minor maliciously, or willfully, causes personal injury or property damage (including theft), the minor’s parents will be responsible. This “maliciously or willfully” standard is an elevated one, and it means that the minor must act with some amount of intent or ill will. So, if a minor is simply careless and causes an accident where someone is injured or property is damaged, that is not enough to hold a parent liable under South Carolina law.  If you are concerned about parental liability due to property damage or injury, contact a Charleston Personal Injury Attorney.

It does not matter whether the victim of a minor’s actions is an individual or an organization.  All kinds of those with a claim are entitled to recover their losses from the minor’s parents, if the minor’s conduct was malicious or willful.  And if this act resulted in harm.

Financial Limits of Parental Liability in South Carolina

Under South Carolina’s parental responsibility law, a parent’s financial liability is limited to $5,000. So, for example, if a child willfully damages someone else’s house, and it costs $6,000 to make necessary repairs, the homeowner will be limited to collecting $5,000 from the child’s parents.

In addition to a limit on the amount of recovery, there is also a limit on the type of damages you can recover. Under South Carolina Code, victims can only recover “actual damages.” For property damage, this would be the cost to repair, or replace, the damaged property. For bodily injuries, this would be the cost of the medical care to treat the victim’s injuries (up to the $5,000). “Actual damages” does not include pain and suffering.

Parents and Minors are Jointly Liable

Minors and their parents are jointly  liable, under Section 63-5-60, as long as the minor would have been responsible for the damage or injury had he or she been an adult. “Joint and several” is a legal term that means claimants have two recovery options.  Option one, they can recover their damages against the parent and minor collectively. Option two, they may collect all of their damages from the parent or the child, individually.

South Carolina’s Parental Responsibility Law Creates Additional Liability

South Carolina code does not eliminate a minor’s responsibility. Minors are still legally responsible for the consequences of their actions. And if the minor’s actions would prompt a finding of liability under another statute.

A Note on Governmental Custody

Section 63-5-60 does not apply to people who have custody of a minor under the authority of a state agency or a county social services department. It also does not apply to state agencies or county departments of social services with legal custody of a minor.  If you are unsure, contact your Charleston Personal Injury Attorney.

South Carolina Parents May Still Be Liable Under Common Law

Even in cases where section 63-5-60 does not apply, South Carolina parents may be held accountable for their children’s actions based on a non-statutory, traditional set of legal rules known as the “common law.”

For example, imagine a parent is aware his or her child is an inattentive driver who talks or texts on the cell phone incessantly while driving. In spite of this knowledge, the parent allows the child to drive a vehicle, without any restrictions. If that child ends up causing an accident while talking or texting on the phone, the parent could be considered negligent for allowing the child to drive and failing to prevent foreseeable harm to others based on the child’s known “dangerous propensities.”

Since 1989, the Charleston personal injury attorneys of Clekis Law Firm have been representing injured people and their families in Charleston and throughout the Low Country. At the Clekis Law Firm our clients always come first. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury due to the negligence of another, don’t be victimized twice. You need someone on your side to help you with your personal injury case and obtain the fair and reasonable compensation that you deserve. Call Clekis at 843.779.1160!