In Georgia, parents are usually liable for injuries caused by the child’s bullying, but there are limits. Schools can also be held liable in some circumstances where the bullying occurred at school (but not always).
Georgia, like all states, has a set of rules known as parental responsibility laws. These laws govern how and when a parent is legally liable for damages caused by their child. Every state is different; they all allow parents to be held liable in some cases, but different states make different rules about how much so. Georgia does make parents liable for the actions of their children, and has two main laws covering it:
- Georgia Code Section 51-2-2 makes parents liable for torts (injury claims) caused by their children under most regular circumstances. For example, if a teen cases a car accident, the parents are liable for the costs of the accident as if they had caused the accident themselves.
- Georgia Code Section 51-2-3 applies to situations where the child is intentionally malicious (such as bullying). Parents are liable, but to a maximum of $10,000.
Both of these laws can affect the rights of a bullied child and their family in different circumstances.
How Parental Responsibility Works in Bullying Cases in Georgia
Together, these laws mean that:
- If your child was bullied,
- And your child was injured by the bullying,
- The bullies parents are liable for your costs…
- …but you may not be able to collect more than $10,000 plus court costs.
Obviously, if your child had severe injuries, that answer may not be very encouraging; the medical costs can easily be more than $10,000. However, depending on what happened, it may be covered by Georgia’s general personal injury laws—in which case no limit applies.
Another factor to consider is age. The courts may consider parents more liable if particularly young children are involved in the bullying; after all, parents have almost total control over young children (and should be supervising them). For teenagers, however, although the law is the same, the courts may view the teen as more responsible for their own actions, and extend less liability to parents. This is because parents generally cannot control teenagers as much, and teens are beginning to make decisions for themselves.
What About Cyber Bullying, Humiliation, and Emotional Damages?
Bullying has always involved an element of humiliation or social stigma in addition to physical pain. These days, bullying increasingly takes place on social media or via texting, where kids don’t physically hurt each other at all—but do cause very real damage.
For these types of “emotional damages,” including the costs of mental health treatment, the law in Georgia is pretty clear:
- You can recover damages for emotional/mental injuries…
- …as long as there was also a physical injury.
That means that the family of a child who was physically beaten up and needed counseling for trauma can recover damages from the bully’s family, but the family of a child who was humiliated without any physical damage may have less options. However, depending on what happened and what other kinds of losses or damages there were, you may have a case anyway.
Get Help with Your Bullying Case
Bulling is a serious situation that can cause lasting harm. The attorneys of John Foy & Associates can help you—and you may have more rights than you realize. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to the right to get a FREE consultation today.