West Virginia Code


Chapter 55     Entire Code



§55-7A-1. Legislative findings; declaration of legislative intent.

The Legislature hereby finds and declares that there are now and have been repeated and widespread acts of vandalism, willful and malicious destruction of property and other injury to persons and property occasioned by the willful, malicious and sometimes criminal acts of children under the age of eighteen years; that the great majority of such children are living with a parent or parents; that there arises or should arise out of such relationship, a responsibility to recompense persons injured by such acts of vandalism and willful and malicious injury to persons and property. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to make parents responsible for the torts of their minor children by reason of the parent-child relationship, and to impose on said parent or parents for such acts of their children, who live with them and who commit acts of vandalism or willful and malicious injury to persons and property, liability in accordance with the provisions hereinafter set forth.

§55-7A-2. Parental liability for willful, malicious or criminal acts of children.

The custodial parent or parents of any minor child shall be personally liable in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for damages which are the proximate result of any one or a combination of the following acts of the minor child:

(a) The malicious and willful injury to the person of another; or

(b) The malicious and willful injury or damage to the property of another, whether the property be real, personal or mixed; or

(c) The malicious and willful setting fire to a forest or wooded area belonging to another; or

(d) The willful taking, stealing and carrying away of the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession.

For purposes of this section, "custodial parent or parents" shall mean the parent or parents with whom the minor child is living, or a divorced or separated parent who does not have legal custody but who is exercising supervisory control over the minor child at the time of the minor child's act.

Persons entitled to recover damages under this article shall include, but not be limited to, the State of West Virginia, any municipal corporation, county commission and Board of Education, or other political subdivision of this state, or any person or organization of any kind or character. The action may be brought in magistrate or another court of competent jurisdiction. Recovery hereunder shall be limited to the actual damages based upon direct out-of-pocket loss, taxable court costs, and interest from date of judgment. The right of action and remedy granted herein shall be in addition to and not exclusive of any rights of action and remedies therefor against a parent or parents for the tortious acts of his or their children heretofore existing under the provisions of any law, statutory or otherwise, or now so existing independently of the provisions of this article.

The provisions of this article shall be applicable to causes of action arising on and after the effective date of reenactment of this article. Causes of actions arising before the effective date of reenactment of this article and proceedings thereon shall be governed by the previously enacted provisions of this article in force at the time the cause arose.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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