Q: My teenaged son was convicted of assault. Could I be held liable for damages in civil court?
A: Generally, under New York law, Courts will not impose liability upon the parents for the acts of their minor (non-emancipated) children. There is an exception to the general rule when the parent(s): (1) are aware that their child has a known propensity to engage in “vicious conduct” or (2) entrust their child with a “dangerous instrument.” Therefore, responding to the specific question posed, if you were aware that your child had a history of violent behavior, and/or prior assaultive behavior, you could be found liable for the assault of your child.
Robert N. Zausmer is Of Counsel in Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.’s Litigation practice group located in Garden City, Long Island, N.Y. He focuses his practice in all aspects of commercial civil litigation and criminal law, including motion practice, trials and appeals. Mr. Zausmer has extensive experience in cases involving non-competition and restrictive covenants in employment contracts; shareholder disputes; dissolution of closely-held corporations; representation of attorneys in disciplinary proceedings; and representation of defendants in criminal cases.
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