Nevada’s parental responsibility law subjects parents to “vicarious liability” of up to $10,000 for damage or injuries inflicted by the willful misconduct of their children. This applies regardless of whether the parent acted irresponsibly.
However, parents who are negligent in the supervision and control of their children may face additional liability over and above the $10,000 damage cap. These parents could also face criminal prosecution under Nevada’s child endangerment or neglect laws.
For instance, a parent may face very high liability for letting a child without proper training use a dangerous object such as a car or a firearm.
Example: Jennifer’s 10-year-old son, Kevin, breaks into her safe and removes her gun. He then takes the firearm to a friend’s house to show it to him, but it accidentally goes off and injures his friend. Under Nevada law, Kevin’s friend can recover up to $10,000 in compensatory damages from Jennifer, even though she did nothing wrong.1
To help you better understand Nevada’s civil laws on parental responsibility for children’s misdeeds, our Nevada personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. Nevada’s parental responsibility law — NRS 41.470
- 2. Nevada’s legal definition of “willful” misconduct
- 3. The meaning of “joint and several” parental liability
- 4. Parental liability for minor’s use of a firearm – NRS 41.472
- Additional reading
Under Nevada’s parental responsibility law, a parent or guardian having custody and control of a minor under 18 years of age is liable for any act of willful misconduct by the minor when such misconduct results in:
- Injury or death to another person,
- Injury to the private property of another, or
- Injury to public property.2
The exception is people licensed by the state of Nevada to conduct a foster home. Such persons are not liable for the actions of minors in their care unless they took some affirmative action that contributed to the act of the child.3
Nevada defines “willful misconduct” as intentional wrongful conduct, done either:
- With knowledge that serious injury will probably result, or
- With a wanton or reckless disregard of the possible results.4
This does not mean that the child intended to cause harm, only that the child knew that their actions were wrongful.
Example: A 10-year-old intentionally disengaged the parking brake in his mom’s car to get her attention. The mom could potentially be held liable under NRS 41.470 for any damages if the car crashes into people or property. Even though the child meant no harm, he was willful as long as he knew that disengaging the parking brake could injure someone.
Under Nevada law, a child can be held liable for all damages caused by her own willful misconduct. However, few children have significant assets.
NRS 41.470 gives people injured by a child’s willful misconduct an extra opportunity to recover compensation by making the parent(s) and child jointly and severally liable for such injuries.
However, unless the parent has done something personally wrong or there is another basis for assigning vicarious liability to the parent, the joint and several liability of the parent(s) or guardian(s) under NRS 41.470 is capped at $10,000.5
NRS 41.472 imposes additional civil parental liability on a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for a minor when the parent or responsible person:
- Knows that the minor has previously been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a criminal offense; or
- Knows that the minor has a propensity to commit violent acts; or
- Knows or has reason to know that the minor intends to use the firearm for unlawful purposes.
In such a case, if the parent permits the child to use or possess a firearm, they are jointly and several liable with the child for ALL damages caused by the child’s negligent or willful misconduct in using the firearm. The $10,000 cap does NOT apply.
For more in-depth information, refer to these scholarly articles:
- Parents Are the Problem? – Central Florida Department of Legal Studies Law Journal.
- Parental Legal Culpability in Youth Offending – Annual Review of Criminology.
- Reining in Vicarious Liability – Industrial Law Journal.
- Vicarious Liability of Parents for Copyright Infringement by Minors: Review and Reform – SSRN 3530754 (2020).
- The sins of the child: Public opinion about parental responsibility for juvenile crime – Children and Youth Services Review.
- Kevin may also be charged with a delinquent act and a misdemeanor under Nevada’s criminal laws.
- NRS 41.470.
- NRS 424.085.
- Davies v. Butler, 95 Nev. 963, 602 P.2d 605 (1979).
- NRS 41.470 (2).