There is a specific Alabama law about what happens if a child “tricks” during Halloween. Ok, the law covers the entire year, but let us concentrate on this weekend.
Say your little zombie, pirate, or “Squid Game” worker decides to take down a mailbox, smash a windshield, or spray-paint a message on a neighbor’s garage. Who pays for the damage? Could it be the child? No. It is the parents.
In Alabama, a child is anyone under 18-years old, and a 17-year-old can do a lot of damage if he or she wants.
The specific state law is the Parental Responsibility Act. It holds parents liable for damages up to $1,000 caused by their children – plus legal fees and court costs. Also, legal guardians and other child-caring adults can face court action, but ironically, foster parents are excluded.
Are parents responsible for all damage costs? Not really. Under the Parental Responsibility Act, the child must intentionally damage something. This prerequisite is why parents are often not held responsible when a 16-year-old is involved in a traffic accident.
Can the payout exceed $1,000? Yes, it can. This generally comes into play if the parents do not take appropriate action to prevent the destructive behavior.
One other note, a good lawyer will occasionally get insurance companies involved. In more than one case, I have had to go against the parent’s homeowner’s insurance to receive enough money to make repairs.
Talk to your older children before they go out this weekend. The “trick” part of trick or treat may seem fun, but it can cost the family plenty.
If you suffer a personal injury like an auto/truck accident, railroad accident, or slip and fall, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.
Join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30, right after the news. We are taking a fall break and will offer 5-minute segments for the rest of the year and a live call-in segment every Monday on NBC 15 at around lunchtime.
Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer