Parents Beware: New State Law Increases Your Responsibility

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Top Ten Tips for Parents to Keep their Teens and Themselves out of Trouble from the Law Office of Jeffrey Kroll

It is Spring and for high school students, that means prom, parties and graduation. Between now and June 2009, nearly 500 Chicagoland high schools will hold their prom and senior graduation. Graduating seniors in particular enter a mode typically known as "Senior Slump." They relax, socialize and attend parties. Parents, siblings and older relatives typically support their teen's celebration out of love. According to Chicago attorney Jeffrey Kroll, it is important to be aware, however, of new legal and safety information.

According to the National Center for Disease control, 70% of all teen deaths are related to auto accidents. Of that 70%, nearly half are the result of alcohol and drug use. A new law regarding the legal rights of those permitting the use of alcohol by minors includes critical information parents need to know. According to The Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act, 740 ILCS 58/1, a person who supplies alcohol or illegal drugs to anyone under 18, is responsible for the injuries sustained or caused by the underage drinker.

Chicago based attorney Jeffrey Kroll warns, "This is a dramatic departure from the Illinois Dram Shop Act. Under the old legislation, if a minor was served alcohol at your home and then later died in a drunk driving accident or caused injury to others, you would not face liability. The Illinois General Assembly changed all of that with the enactment of the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act. Parents need to be aware that should they allow teenagers to drink on their property and any of those teenagers get injured, they are on hook- for the entire night that follows."

What does being on the hook entail? According to Kroll, a personal injury attorney, "If one of the minors at your home is hurt or hurts someone else, you might be paying for their attorney to sue you."

A harmed teen or family member could rightfully be entitled to the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, medical expenses, loss of economic or educational potential, loss of productivity, absenteeism, and support expenses. Kroll said that non-economic damages would also get a monetary value. Such damages include physical pain, mental suffering, physical impairment, emotional distress, mental anguish, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Kroll advises parents to take heed, "Be aware, should you allow teenagers to drink on your property and they get hurt, you are responsible according to the law. And rightfully so. Think before you allow your kids (and their friends) to drink. And if you do decide to let them imbibe in the bubbly, please do so responsibly: TAKE THE KEYS."

1.    Get to know your teen's friends and their parents on a first name basis.

2.    Help your teen plan a party in your home. Limit the amount of guests and check the guest list. Provide ample food and non alcoholic beverages.

3.    Make regular unannounced visits and do not allow guests in areas of the house where there might be alcohol. Consider locking the alcohol away.

4.    If you teen is attending a party, call the parent to ensure that there will be no alcohol and that there will be sufficient adult supervision.

5.    If you are going out of town and your teen will be alone, be direct and set clear expectations. Notify a neighbor and ask them to keep an eye out and check in on your teen several times, unexpectedly.

6.    Know how your teen is getting to and from a party. Be aware when your child arrives home. Ask that they come in to greet you, regardless of the hour.

7.    Let your teen know they can ALWAYS call you for a ride home, regardless of the time.

8.    Ask questions! Who they will he be with? Where will they be going? Check up on them.

9.    Let your teen know you understand and respect how much their friendships mean to them and respect them as a developing adult.

10.    Remind them that becoming an adult and being treated like an adult requires responsibility and communication, at every age.

About Jeffrey J. Kroll:
Jeffrey J. Kroll is the principal at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Kroll He founded his firm with 17 years' experience representing victims and their families. In 2002, Kroll was selected by The National Law Journal as one of the top 40 attorneys in America under the age of 40, and was the only personal injury lawyer in the Midwest selected. He is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell's highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability, and for the past five years, has been selected by his peers as one of the "Leading Attorneys in Illinois." He also has been selected as one of the "Top Plaintiff's Personal Injury Attorneys" in "Chicago Lawyer" magazine. Kroll graduated from DePaul University College of Law and received his B.S.C. from DePaul in Finance and Economics in 1987. He is originally from the south side of Chicago and Orland Park, where he attended Marist High School. He currently lives in the west suburbs with his wife and two children, where he coaches Little League and soccer.

Amy Simon
TC Public Relations
Amy (at) tcpr (dot) net
(312) 422-1333


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