Liability for injury from an organized fight between 17 year old boys?
My 17 year old son and another 17 year old boy agreed to meet at a park on a Sunday and fight. The fight was recorded by another boy and shows that the two boys touched hands before the fight began.
Several days later I received a call from the police urging me to contact the parents of the other boy. They are saying that my son broke his jaw and want me to pay the medical bills. Later I found out that they didn't go to the hospital until Monday afternoon, and told them it was a basketball injury.
When I watched the video over and over, I didn't see any evidence of a solid hit, let alone any blood to confirm a broken bone. They have told me that if I pay the bills they won't press charges.
What charges can my son be facing if I don't pay the bills? Am I responsible to pay them at all? They both agreed to the fight. What are the legal issues here? Thanks for any perspective you can give.
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ANSWER for "Liability for injury from an organized fight between 17 year old boys?":
It is difficult to understand why the police urged you to call the other boy's parents. The police aren't supposed to mediate civil matters. In the alternative, the police may have just been trying to avoid a problem where they are pushed by the parents of the boy to investigate the episode as an assault.
Fortunately, there exists a video of the fight. If both boys voluntarily agreed to fight, it is very unlikely the police will allow the boy's parents to file an assault case.
Call the police and ask them if they intend to permit the boy's parents to file an assault case. If they say no, then you have little to worry about. At that point, the only recourse the boy's parents have is to file a lawsuit against you as the parent of a minor.
If the police say they will permit the parents to file an assault claim, but will not do so if you pay the boy's medical bills, then you will be in a precarious position. At that point, it could be argued the police are unknowingly engaging in a form of extortion. Pay, or have your son arrested.
Your best resort is to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney. An experienced attorney can intervene and likely work out a compromise. The attorney will also be better able to communicate to the police.
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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