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Child Injured At A Relative's Home? Can (And Should) You Sue?

Law Blog

If you have young children, you've likely grown adept at "instant childproofing" while visiting friends or relatives -- sweeping a room for potential hazards and removing breakable or sharp objects before they can catch your child's eye. However, it can be difficult to keep a watchful eye on your child constantly, and before you know it, you may be seeking medical care for a broken bone, deep laceration, or other injury he or she has suffered while at your relative's home. What are your options in this situation? If your relative doesn't offer to cover your child's medical bills, are you permitted to sue? Read on to learn more about your legal rights when it comes to suing a relative for injuries suffered by your child. 

When are you legally able to sue a relative? 

In general, you're able to sue anyone who breaches their duty of care to you (or a minor child), resulting in injury. However, there are several exceptions. The first is if the relative is an immediate one (like a spouse or adult child) who is covered under your homeowners insurance policy. In this case, your child's medical bills should be paid by your own insurance, even if your relative was technically at fault. 

Another exception exists if your child's injury was not due to your relative's negligence, but your own. For example, if you visit your relative and he or she instructs you not to let your child near the pool, but you unlock the gate and send your child in anyway, your relative is unlikely to be deemed at fault for any subsequent injuries your child suffers.

Should you sue your relative for your child's injuries? 

The question of whether you should sue a relative is often much more difficult than whether you're technically able to do so. In many cases, the inter-family strife or conflict a lawsuit could cause may not be worth the out of pocket medical expenses you'll be paying if you don't sue. In other cases, a lawsuit may be necessary to emphasize to your relative how serious the consequences of his or her negligence could be. 

When deciding whether to sue, you'll want to consider both your child's present and future medical care. A minor laceration that requires stitches but no follow-up care may need to be treated very differently than a broken bone that will require weeks of physical therapy after the cast is removed. Even if you're not upset with the medical costs you've incurred so far, if your child will require some level of ongoing care, a lawsuit can provide you with the additional funds needed to seek this care. To learn more, contact a company like Hornthal Riley Ellis & Maland LLP


10 June 2016