Can I be held liable for medical bills for the girl my son accidentally shot with a BB gun?

by Geena
(Salt Lake City, UT)

My son was spending the night at a friend's house. Unbeknownst to me my son and his friend were taken to another home where there was an unsupervised party. The cousin of the friend that they were visiting was house sitting and decided to have an impromptu party and said he could invite friends as well.

There were approximately 15 kids at this party. There was apparently a collection of swords and BB guns at this home and they were being played with and my son was playing with one of the BB guns.

Not being a gun owning family, my son doesn't know a vast deal about guns, but has been taught NOT to point guns at people and how dangerous they are. But he did not use good judgment and pulled the trigger, not knowing that a BB gun could actually hurt someone or that the gun was loaded. It hit a girl in the leg.

He says he was approximately 10 feet from the girl but that it went pretty deep under the skin and she had to have it surgically removed. My son is a straight A student, plays on the football team, and has never missed a day of school. He does have one curfew ticket that has been issued in the last 6 months as he was walking home from a friend's house too late instead of calling for a ride.

How would be the best course of action here? Can I be held liable for medical bills for the girl my son accidentally shot with the BB gun? Any information or perspective would be appreciated. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I be held liable for medical bills for the girl my son accidentally shot with a BB gun?":

Geena (Salt Lake City, UT):

It appears your son was a minor at the time of the shooting. Under Title 78-Section 6-1113 of the Utah Code, you will very likely be responsible for the young girl's medical bills and related costs. However, the State of Utah caps the amount of parental liability at $2,000.

Section 78(A)-6-1113 of the Utah Code reads in part:

"Liability imposed on parents if child intentionally damages or steals property, if child recklessly or willfully shoots an object at a vehicle, airplane, boat or train, or if child intentionally or unlawfully tampers with property of another and recklessly endangers human life or recklessly causes substantial interruption or impairment of a public utility service...."

The right thing to do is to contact the girl's parents and offer to pay the medical bills. You can choose to pay the entire amount of the girl's medical bills, or take the position you are only legally required to pay up to $2,000. It is entirely up to you.

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,

Judge Calisi

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