Daughter hit by football...

by Anonymous
(Washington)

My daughter (4th grade) was playing soccer with a group of friends. Next to the soccer game was a group of boys playing football. One of the boys came to the girls to warn them that the boys wanted to try to hit them with the football.

A boy kicked the football into the direction of the girls and my daughter ended up with a broken permanent tooth, shifted teeth and a fear of playing on the field.

The parents insist that the boy is not a good player and this was an accident. The tooth was filed down but they cannot place veneer until the teeth mature The school insists that it is safe to have soccer next to football on a field. They also insist that they have adequate supervision.

Is there any recourse in this situation? Are the boy's parents responsible for my daughter's dental bills? Thank you for your time.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Daughter hit by football...":

Anonymous (Washington):

You're in a precarious position. Based on Washington State law, to have any chance of getting your daughter's medical bills paid by the boy's parents will require showing that the boy "willfully or maliciously" injured your daughter.

This legal requirement is set out in The State of Washington's Parental Liability Statute, which reads in part:

"... The parent or parents of any minor child under the age of eighteen years who is living with the parent or parents and who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or deface property, real or personal or mixed, or who shall willfully and maliciously inflict personal injury on another person, shall be liable to the owner of such property or to the person injured in a civil action at law for damages in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars."

See Revised Code of Washington, Statute 4.24.190

It appears you have already spoken with the boy's parents. It's unfortunate they refused to accept liability for their son's actions. Maybe you can approach them again and ask them to agree to pay at least half of the dental bills.

Because of the relatively minimal injury, it may be difficult to find an attorney willing to accept the case, but you should still try.

Also, even though there is a statute addressing the parents' liability for the actions of their child, it does not preclude you from filing a civil lawsuit against them. This would be a lawsuit based on "common law," and not based on statute.

Washington's Parental Liability statute set out above does not preclude you from filing a civil lawsuit in one of Washington's Small Claims Courts. These courts have jurisdiction to hear civil cases where the amount in controversy is $5,000 or less.

If you decide to pursue a case against the parents in Small Claims Court, be sure to bring copies of your daughter's dental bills, your out of pocket expenses (for such items as such as medications, costs of travel to treatment, etc.), and your lost wages (if you had to take time off from work to care for your daughter).

Let's hope filing lawsuit won't be necessary.

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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PERSONAL INJURY
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