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Are Parents Liable for Injuries Caused by Their Child’s Bullying In Georgia?

Posted in Blog on February 4, 2020

The bullying epidemic that has spread across the country has had devastating consequences on families, especially when a child is injured. When a child is harmed due to another child’s bullying, it is important to understand who is liable for the injuries. In general, parents in Georgia can be held liable for injuries caused by their child’s bullying. However, there are also instances in which the school can be held liable if the bullying took place on school grounds.

Georgia bully

Parental responsibility laws in Georgia

It is generally understood that parents are responsible for their children’s actions. In Georgia, there is a set of rules known as parental responsibility laws that govern when and how a parent is legally liable for damages their child causes. Two pertinent laws relating to parental liability are:

  • Georgia Code Section 51-2-2. This makes parents liable for torts (injury claims) caused by their children in most circumstances. For example, if a sixteen-year-old cases a car accident, the parents would be held liable for the costs related to the accident as if they had caused the accident themselves.
  • Georgia Code Section 51-2-3. This law applies to instances where a child is intentionally malicious (such as bullying). Parents are held liable for damages, but only to a maximum of $10,000.

Looking at these laws, we can determine that if a child is bullied and is injured due to the bullying, then the parents of the bullied child are held liable for the costs. However, the bullied child and their parents will only be able to recover a maximum of $10,000 in damages.

This may seem encouraging, but there are many cases in which a child sustains more than $10,000 in damages. Medical costs can be enormous, and simple tests such as MRIs and X-rays can easily result in thousands of dollars in medical bills. If any additional emotional or psychological counseling is needed, the costs could easily rise above $10,000.

An alternative in scenarios in which damages exceed $10,000 is filing a personal injury lawsuit. In Georgia, personal injury lawsuits have no such caps in place on damages.

A new wave of bullying

Technology has introduced a new way for bullying to follow a child. With social media becoming an increasing part of every child’s life, the ability of bullies to humiliate someone has increased. More and more, we are seeing that bullying takes place over social media or via texting where there is no actual physical harm, but very real damage does exist. Emotional trauma due to cyberbullying is real, and it can lead to physical injuries.

In order to recover compensation for “emotional damages” in Georgia, including the cost of mental health treatment and counseling, there must have also been a physical injury involved in the case. For example, if a child is beat up in school by a bully and needs emotional or psychological counseling as a result of the incident, the family may be able to recover compensation from the bully’s parents for emotional damages. However, there may be fewer options for a child who sustains cyberbullying or emotional trauma with no physical injury involved.

The school may be negligent

Schools are supposed to be safe places for children, and parents should be able to count on teachers and administrators to protect their children from bullying. However, schools cannot guarantee that a child will not get harmed. A school may be held liable for injuries due to bullying if their supervision of the child was negligent and the child was harmed due to their inadequate supervision. Schools could also be held liable if they know about instances of bullying and failed to take steps to prevent harm from occurring. Contact our Atlanta personal injury attorneys today.