Liability of Parent vs. Daycare...

by Anonymous
(Cobb County, GA)

My son and another student were at daycare, playing outside on the playground. They had a small plastic toy car and proceeded to toss this toy into the play house repeatedly. Both boys were doing the same actions, however when my son tossed it up, it bounced off and unfortunately hit the other student.

This resulted in the student getting injured, being taken to doctor, and receiving two stitches. Now the other student's mother expressed that she wants me to pay for her doctor's co-pay.

Is this something I become liable for even though this was an accident on school grounds, playing outside? Is there shared liability between the daycare and me? How does it work? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Liability of Parent vs. Daycare...":

Anonymous (Cobb County, GA):

In most cases, parents are responsible for the acts and omissions of their minor children, especially when the acts or omissions result in injuries to another child. From the facts you present, it is obvious your son's actions, while not malicious, were the direct and proximate cause of the student's injury.

(Here's what you need to know about proximate cause.)

As a result, you could conceivably be legally responsible for the entire amount of the injured student's medical bills. In other words, the parents of the injured student didn't have to file an injury claim with their own insurance company. If the parents didn't file a claim, but rather paid the medicals bills themselves, then you could conceivably be responsible for the full amount, and not just the copay.

At first glance, the daycare center owner doesn't appear to have been negligent. However if the toy car was metal, or was made of another hard substance which, if thrown at a another child could cause a serious injury, then the daycare owner may be responsible for the inured student's medical bills.

Daycare owners have a legal "duty of care" to do everything within reason to make sure their property is safe for the students who are on it. If the teacher or person who was supervising the children knew, or should have known your son had a toy which could cause damage to another student if the toy was thrown, and the teacher or supervisor failed to take the toy away, the daycare center may be liable.

While you can ask the daycare center to pay the copay amount, if the owner feels he or she was not negligent, then you may have a difficult time getting the owner to pay.

From the type of injury you describe, the student's medical bills would have been relatively small. At this point you should be more than willing to pay the copay. If you don't, and the parents of the injured child become frustrated, they could conceivably sue you in small claims court for the full amount of the medical bills.

Moreover, if there is a chance the injured student's cut will leave a scar, the parents may decide to retain an attorney and sue you for a substantial amount of money. You would be well-served to as quickly as possible put this matter behind you. If you don't, who knows what will happen...

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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