Son injured by another kid while playing on basketball court...

by Anonymous

My 8 year old son was playing in the apartment complex basketball court. So were a bunch of other kids. In a moment when my son was kneeling down facing the wooden floor to catch his breath, another kid for whatever reason threw the basketball directly on my son's head, making him hit the wooden floor. He lost an adult tooth.

The other kid who threw the ball is also 8 years old. He immediately apologized, as it was an accident. The parent felt sorry for their son but they don't want to take any liability. The medical bills are mounting.

Can I legally ask the other kid's parents to pay for my son's medical expenses? Should I get legal help for this? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Son injured by another kid while playing on basketball court...":

Anonymous (Massachusetts):

From the facts you present, your son did not sustain injuries requiring medical treatment. He did though sustain an injury requiring dental treatment. According to several dental websites, it can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 to replace an adult tooth.

Parental Liability:

In many cases, parents are legally responsible for the actions and omissions of their children when those acts or omissions result in injuries to others.

As a result, you can certainly ask the child’s parents to pay for your son’s dental bills, your out of pocket expenses, and even your lost wages if you had to miss work to take your son to and from dental treatment (or for the time you may have had to stay at home with him during his convalescence).

Homeowners Insurance:

Speak with the child's parents and ask them to file a claim under their homeowners insurance. In many cases, homeowners insurance covers injuries negligently caused by family members, even when those injuries occur away from the home.

Small Claims Court:

In the event the parents refuse to submit the claim to their insurance company, or otherwise refuse to compensate you for your son’s dental treatment and related costs, you can certainly consider suing them in small claims court.

In the State of Massachusetts, victims of personal injuries can sue the negligent party for up to $7,000 in small claims court. While suing your neighbors may not be the neighborly thing to do, it may be your only option.

If you choose to follow that path, go to Massachusetts Attorney General’s website for Small Claim court information, filing fees, rules and procedures.

Attorney vs. Self-Representation:

By retaining an attorney, you will likely be responsible to pay the attorney a contingency fee. This means the attorney will not charge you any legal fees or costs in advance. Instead, once the attorney settles the claim or succeeds at trial, you will be obligated to pay the attorney anywhere from 33% to 40% of your compensation, depending on the terms of the fee agreement.

Small Claims courts have relaxed rules of evidence. Small claims judges normally allow participants to argue their case without having to be concerned with objections, hearsay, and other legal technicalities. As a result, you can probably handle your own claim. But it's always a good idea to get a fee case review from an attorney in your area.

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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