Liability for Accident on School Playground?

by James

My son, who is in fourth grade, was throwing rocks with other students at a cargo container that is on the playground. One of the rocks ricocheted and accidentally struck a child in the tooth who was jumping rope nearby. The rock broke his front tooth in half.

The boy's mother states she has no health insurance to cover his tooth injury. Am I responsible for having the boy's tooth fixed, or does the school have some sort of coverage for these types of incidents? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Liability for Accident on School Playground?":

James (California):

In the State of California, as in most states, parents can be held responsible for the acts of their children. Unfortunately, in this case you may be liable for the child's dental bills.

Contact your homeowners insurance company. Often acts of children are covered, even when the actions take place away from the residential property.

The school probably has no liability. To find liability you would have to have some proof the school, or its personnel, acted negligently. Regrettably, the only persons who may have acted negligently are the boys, including your son, who were throwing the rocks.

If you refuse to pay for the child's dental bills the child's parents can consider suing you in Small Claims Court. In the State of California the Small Claims Courts' jurisdictional, or "maximum limit" is $7,500 dollars.

What this will come down to is whether you want to do the right thing. Only you can decide what that is.

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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