Tooth knocked out in school fight...

by Anonymous
(Virginia)

Two boys were play fighting at school. Things escalated and after being punched in the chest, one boy punched back and hit the other boy in the face. One of the boy's teeth were knocked out, requiring emergency dental work.

Are the parents of the child who knocked out the tooth liable for the medical expenses? The boy who caused the injury was punched first in the chest by the other boy. It would appear to be self defense, right? Where does liability sit in this scenario? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Tooth knocked out in school fight...":

Anonymous (Virginia):

In most cases, parents are responsible or "liable" for the injuries or property damage caused by their children. To establish liability, the injured boy's parents must establish the injury was physically unprovoked.

In most states, physical provocation is not sufficient to establish legal reason to be able to assault another person. The only exception is when the physical provocation is such that it expressly implies the person is about to commit an assault.

For example, if a person says something like "I think you are ugly and stupid," that isn't sufficient legal grounds for assaulting the person making those remarks.

Yet, if the same person were to say something like "I'm going to punch you in the face and stab you," and the person making that statement was in a position to take such action, the other person would probably have grounds for striking first.

If self defense can be established, the boy striking the other boy may escape liability. Further, whether the boy had legal cause to strike the other boy will depend on the time which passed between the punch in the chest, and the striking back.

In many cases, the person must retreat from an explosive situation... where reasonably and practically possible.

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

P.S. Please help us out by sharing this site...

Click here to post comments

Return to Parental Liability Questions.

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review:

TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION