Broken Jaw from Assault...
(Merrick, NY USA)
On 10/9/11 my son was riding his bike in our neighborhood past an elementary school where there were dozens of kids hanging out. They were apparently waiting for a "fight" between two kids to take place. One of the kids didn't show up and so the other boy(s) and their "posse" of about 15 kids were primed to hurt someone.
Four of the boys (2 of them with police records, as we found out from the detective) participated in the incident. One kid pushed my son off his bike and when he stood up to try and see how many were coming up behind him, another kid sucker punched him in the side of the face, knocking him unconscious and breaking his jawbone (mandible).
Tomorrow, he has go into surgery to wire his jaw shut for 8 weeks. He has a black eye, bumps and bruises and a broken jaw. We are pressing charges as we now know who these thugs are.
Can we personally sue the families of these kids? Or do we sue them personally and because they have no assets at 17, there is no lawsuit?
My son will be out of school for 2 weeks, out of physical education for 8 weeks and may require homeschooling for a week or two until the headaches and pain from surgery subside. I was told that there is no civil case here because these thugs have no assets. How is this possible?
Also, I need to add that 2 weeks ago, my son went to a local fast food restaurant for lunch and one of the boys that hit him had reached over and took a taco off my son's tray. My son said, "What do you think you're doing?" The kid said, "Come outside if you got a problem with me." My son responded, "Okay, but not 6 on one. One to one...no problem."
They cursed at him and left. No action pursued. Sunday night they saw him riding his bike near the elementary school and the ringleader said to his posse, "That's the kid from taco bell." They then surrounded him, knocked him off his bike and started taunting him, stating "Come on Karate Kid, do something about it now."
My son is a gentle soul who would pluck a bug out of the pool if it was struggling to survive. I don't know how they knew he was a blackbelt? But that many kids on one, there was no chance he could fight his way out.
The DA wants to make this an Assault 3 charge, which is a slap on the wrist for these kids. It sounds like he's saying "Too bad kid, you were at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Please help me with this. What can be done? Thank you!
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ANSWER for "Broken Jaw from Assault...":
Katie (Merrick, New York, USA):
In the State of New York, as in most other states, parents can be held responsible for the actions of their children, especially when those actions were intentional and made to inflict bodily injury upon another, or to take action so that there was a strong possibility of serious bodily injury or death.
From the facts you present it appears you have a clear case against the parents of the aggressive children. You also have a strong cause of action against the school where the fight and ensuing injuries took place.
It will be difficult to change the minds of the prosecutors, but you should not be deterred in pressing them as much as is reasonably possible.
When speaking with the prosecutors tell them you won’t object to the reduced Assault 3 charges ONLY IF the prosecutors make reimbursing you for the costs of your son’s injuries and related medical treatment as a condition of their probation. That way if the parents fail to reimburse you as agreed, their children will be in violation of a condition of their probation. That violation could include incarceration in a juvenile detention facility.
Also tell the prosecutors when the aggressors appear before the judge to enter their pleas of either guilty or no contest, the judge admonish those boys not to ever taunt or come into contact with your son again. Violating the judge’s order can also cause the children AND their parents to be held in contempt of a court order.
What happened to your son is obscene, and should never happen again to him, or any other child.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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