If my 9 year old daughter was being bullied at school and she pushed the bully who fell and broke his tooth, are we liable?

A notorious bully at the school approached my daughter and a group of her friends and proceeded to make fun of my daughter. She got upset and pushed him from behind, he stumbled then fell, and broke his front tooth. My daughter apologized profusely and a counselor had to be brought in to console her. She even approached and apologized the bully the following Monday and asked if he was OK. We do not have renters insurance, are we liable?

Asked on December 6, 2011 under Personal Injury, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may be liable. Parents are liable for intentional torts, or deliberate injuries or damages, caused by their children. Pushing someone is assault, an intentional tort; therefore, you could be liable for the medical costs, etc. arising from the broken tooth, should his family elect to sue. While any parent (or anyone who remembers being a child) would sympathize with your daughter, the law does not make being made fun of a defense to assault (if the bully had pushed or hit her, that would be a different story--then it might be self-defense).

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