What is my potential liability if my daughter swatted her wristlet purse at a fellow classmate on their way home from school bus drop off and he is now claiming a severe injury?

The mom is suing us indicating my daughter caused irreparable damage to his eye and eyesight as a result of her action. According to my daughter and the school which I verified the boy already had issues with the eye in question. In the lawsuit they are suing for future loss of wages for the son and parents because he is essentially blind and will not be able to lead a normal life. Meanwhile the boy is on the football team, etc. I recently purchased my home 3 years ago as a single mom raising 2 kids. Will I lose my home?

Asked on October 20, 2015 under Personal Injury, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The first issue is, is your daughter liable. If she "swatted her wristlet purse" at the boy on purpose, you definitely would be--parents are liable for the intentional injuries caused by their children. Or if she was unreasonably careless in swinging it around, she'd be negligent and therefore liable and so you would be liable, too. But if she was not at fault in any way--for example, she was simple turning around and the boy was too close and was accidently hit--she and you should not be liable.
The second issue is, liable for what? IF she injured the boy's eye, she and you can be liable for all medical costs to date and potential future costs for diminished earning potential, if he can't earn as much money--which has to be proven with expert testimony, not just assumed, and there really is no reason to think that someone with one injured eye can't earn a very good living e.g. a friend is a one-eyed attorney--and for "pain and suffering" for impairment of his life. That last number, pain and suffering, could be very large for losing a body part, if the eye is essentially ruined or badly damaged.
However, she and you would only be liable for the damage and vision loss she caused to the extent his eye was already damaged or not functioning properly, he could recover less money, because less of his vision loss is due to her.
Third, if you are liable for more than you can afford, consider bankruptcy and discuss the matter with a bankruptcy attorney bankruptcy is effective against debts from personal injury lawsuits, and can substantially reduce what you'd owe.


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