Children are a source of joy but can sometimes unintentionally cause damage. In Germany, specific regulations determine under what circumstances children can be held liable for such damages. Children under 7 years old, and children under 10 years old in traffic accidents, are considered not legally responsible (deliktunfähig), meaning they cannot be held legally accountable for the damages they cause. However, what about the responsibility of parents, and what happens when a child causes damage?

According to German law, parents are not automatically liable for the damages caused by their legally incapable child unless they have breached their duty of supervision. This regulation often leads to uncertainty and misunderstanding among those affected. If a child who falls under the category of being legally incapable causes damage, and the parents have not breached their duty of supervision, the victim typically bears the costs.

For this reason, it is crucial for parents to have private liability insurance that explicitly covers damages caused by legally incapable children. This additional insurance option not only protects the financial stability of the family but also provides coverage for damages caused by the child without requiring proof that the parents neglected their duty of supervision.

The German Civil Code (BGB) stipulates that the person responsible for causing damage is usually held accountable. However, for children under 7 years old (and under 10 years old in traffic), it is assumed that they cannot fully comprehend the consequences of their actions, thus exempting them from liability.

The situation changes if the parents breach their duty of supervision. Courts assess this duty on a case-by-case basis. For instance, a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) specifies that children aged 5 ½ years old on a playground should be checked at least every 30 minutes. The exact requirements for supervision vary depending on the child’s age, character, and individual traits.

Although the law provides clear guidelines, the moral obligation for parents to address damages caused by their child remains significant. Whether and to what extent parents should cover these damages is often a matter of personal conscience and interpersonal relationships.

To protect against such unexpected financial burdens, it is advisable to ensure that liability insurance policies include coverage for damages caused by legally incapable children. Coverage amounts vary, and experts recommend choosing comprehensive coverage to be well-protected in the event of damage.

This topic highlights the complex interaction between legal regulations and moral considerations when it comes to children and the damages they cause. It underscores the necessity for parents to be well-informed about their legal responsibilities and insurance options. Having the right insurance not only provides peace of mind but also ensures that families are financially protected against the actions of their young children.