Good parents are never short of things to worry about, especially related to their own kids. Are the kids happy? Healthy? Doing well in school? Making friends? Learning to be good citizens? The list goes on—it’s one of the reasons parents are the busiest people on Earth.
Surprisingly though, in a survey conducted by Liberty Mutual, more than half of the parents who say they drive other children, or host other children in their home, are unaware of the legal ramifications of certain behaviors and decisions. For many well-meaning parents, this is a very serious blind spot. Fortunately, we’ve created a guide to get everyone up to speed.
Most good parents want all kids to be safe at all times. But frankly, a majority of those same parents need to take a look in the mirror and examine their own standards of behavior. In the Liberty Mutual study cited above, one in three parents said they neglect to enforce basic home safety rules in their home when other children are visiting, and an astounding 79 percent of parents admit to distracted driving behaviors when driving other children (alongside their own).
Certainly the safety of any child should be your foremost concern, but it’s also important to be aware of collateral consequences that stem from accidents—consequences that could put immense strain on you and your family. Premise liability is a legal theory that holds homeowners responsible for any activities and conditions on a homeowner’s property. That means if a child is hurt at your home, you are financially responsible for the injury. And that includes scenarios when a child sneaks onto your property without permission.
If you’re looking to make your home as safe an environment as possible, start by managing the leading causes of injury—dogs and swimming pools. If you have either, take great precaution in making sure your guests are safe and sound. Drowning accidents happen more often than you may realize.
Perhaps the most infamous subject related to parent liability, underage drinking is a major concern in the U.S. In a 2015 survey by Monitoring the Future, 87 percent of 12th graders reported it’s “fairly easy” or “very easy” for them to get alcohol. Whether they get it from your house or not, if they’re drinking it on your property, you could be in for some serious consequences. In 31 states, social hosts can be held civilly liable for injuries or damages caused by underage drinkers, and in 30 states there are criminal penalties for adults who host or permit parties with underage drinking.
The list goes on from there—you can be held responsible for things that happen when your kids are driving, when your kids cause harm outside your home, and even when you’re trying to be helpful and coaching youth sports. The point is, you can’t be too cautious about following rules and adhering to a safety-first lifestyle. Be sure to read through the rest of our guide, because no one can afford to miss these details.