A Time to Sue? Child Injuries Away from Home, a Practical Guide
Whenever your child is injured there are a host of emotions and thoughts that run through your mind. These feelings can become amplified when your child is injured while out of your care or when the situation is unique. Depending on the circumstances you will start to look for who was the responsible party.
If your child is injured and the injury occurs at the home of a friend the first step is to remain calm. Your reaction to the situation needs to be thought out and based on a number of factors. Were you in the home when the injury occurred? Was your child invited or uninvited? Did the adult in the situation assume responsibility for your child or was there an adult?
Admit when you are at fault
If you were in the home when the injury occurred then the responsibility lies in your hands. Try and resist finger pointing. An exception to this is the extent to which you had control over the situation.
Obviously, if little Billy ripped his leg open as his foot broke through a rotted wood stair, you are not responsible. On the other hand if Billy and Sarah were running laps around a glass table and you just let it fly, when he cracks his head on the table you have yourself to blame. The fact that your friend “did not mind is irrelevant.
Suppose Billy makes decides to visit Sarah, but he should to be out riding his bike. If there is no adult present, then the situation becomes more complicated. Granted, when he breaks his ankle jumping off the landing while playing superhero you could sue, but will you? Make the wrong choice and if could sever a childhood friendship and cost you an adult companion.
Know when to seek help
An injury that involves costly medical bills and the fault, or at least the liability, is on your friend, you may want to have a discussion with them. After all, you are friends. It is times like those that show the grit of who you both are.
There are situations when children are seriously injured or killed at the homes of acquaintances. These often involve the accessibility of weapons, such as knives, bows and arrows, swords or traditional firearms.
Ideally you would be proactive. Spending time with a friend in their space, with your child, will give you an idea of how liberal they are. You should be able to explore the house. After all, if you will actually leave your child there then any person who is uptight about you taking a peek around may not be the sort of individual you need to leave your child with in the first place.
The seriousness of the injury matters
You do not want to overreact from a sprained ankle or minor bruises and scrapes. However, when a serious injury occurs you will have to handle the situation as accordingly. In those cases it is more than about bills, although those need to be paid, it is also the clarification of boundaries and responsibility.
Every situation is unique. The key is that you are friends. If your friendship is a mature one and they have a real affection for you and your child then they will be more than accommodating. The focus should be on what needs to be done to ensure your child is well and cared for.
If you are in a situation where your friend could care less about more than their own hide, you may have exposed a fraudulent friendship. Just be careful your antics are not what brew that attitude. The best advice is to realize there is no rulebook, and every situation is unique. When your child is hurt at a friend’s home be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to wrath.
Andrew Greene is a freelance writer and blogs for accidentclaims.org