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Tort Action for Dangerous Employment of a Minor Child

Labor & Employment Law: Employer Liability: Tort Liability: Negligent Hiring & Supervision

Family Law: Parental Duties & Rights: Care & Control of Children

A person who employs a minor child in a dangerous occupation may be liable to the child’s parent for harm that is sustained by the child. An occupation is considered to be dangerous if it involves a risk of death or serious bodily harm because of the age and inexperience of the child. The occupation does not have to be dangerous for an adult in order for the employer to be liable to the parent.

A person who employs a minor child in a dangerous occupation will be liable to the child’s parent if the parent incurs a loss of the child’s services as a result of the child’s employment or if the parent incurs medical expenses on behalf of the child. However, in order to be liable, the employer must have known that the child’s age and inexperience would render the occupation dangerous to the child. If the child appeared to be older or if the child was experienced in that type of occupation, the employer is not liable to the child’s parent. Also, if the employer reasonably believed that the occupation was no more dangerous to the child than to an adult, the employer is not liable to the child’s parent.

If a parent consents to the employment of his or her child in a dangerous occupation, the parent will not be able to recover from the child’s employer for the child’s injuries. Also, if the parent does not object to the child’s employment, the parent will not be able to recover from the employer. However, the employer takes the risk that a child may not be working with his or her parent’s consent. If the child misrepresents that his or her parent consented to his or her employment, the parent will still be entitled to recover from the employer.

A parent’s right to recover from his or her child’s employer does not depend upon the employer’s liability with regard to the child. The parent’s cause of action is a separate cause of action from the child’s cause of action. In other words, the employer is liable to the parent even if he or she is not liable to the child. The employer is liable even if he or she was not negligent or even if the child was contributorily negligent. The employer is liable to the parent based on the fact that he or she employed the child in a dangerous occupation and based on the fact that the child was injured in the dangerous occupation.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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