As Halloween approaches, here’s a “real life” story and cautionary tale for those of us with mischievous kiddos…
A 14-year-old boy stumbled upon some leftover Fourth of July fireworks in his parents’ garage. He was very excited to share his discovery with his friends.
A few nights before Halloween, while their parents were asleep, the boys decided to try a few of them out. They lit off a bottle rocket that immediately zoomed off-course and landed underneath their neighbor's car. Realizing that something had seriously gone wrong, they rushed over to try to kick it from beneath the vehicle, but the car suddenly burst into flames and, as they looked on in disbelief, the tree in the yard and the adjacent home quickly caught fire as well. By the time fire department arrived, extensive damage had been done.
A seemingly innocent prank suddenly turned destructive. Even though the boy’s parents weren't present and had no idea what their sons had just done, the boy’s parents were by default liable for his actions. The total cost of the damages exceeded $620,000.
Colorado - Vicarious Liability Law
In Colorado, parents and/or guardians of children are held legally responsible when a child commits a criminal act or accidentally damages and injures another person or their property. Parents and guardians are held responsible under the theory of “Vicarious Liability.” While a “parent” may be anyone who exercises control or authority over the child, typically the custodial parent is the one held civilly responsible for the child’s acts. Parental vicarious liability stems from a parent’s responsibility to supervise and educate a child.
So as your children and their friends head out to celebrate Halloween, keep in mind that, as a parent, guardian, or supervisory adult you may be held civily liable for damages caused by the kids under your supervision if they make poor decisions that result in bodily injury or property damage to others. You may be required to pay restitution, fines or penalties associated with damages that may result from having “too much fun.”
Homeowners Insurance Provides Liability Coverage
The good news is you probably have insurance coverage for this loss type on your Homeowners Insurance or Renters Insurance policy and/or Liability Umbrella policy. Standard limits of insurance are $300,000 on a home insurance policy and $100,000 on a Renters Insurance policy, with higher limits available.
At Denver West Insurance Brokers all our representatives are licensed insurance agents. We are a local, independent insurance broker located in Golden Colorado. We service the cities of Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Morrison, Evergreen, Denver and Littleton, but we welcome clients who live anywhere in Colorado. Give us a call. We are happy to answer any additional questions you might have.