If a flood in a house in my mother-in-law’s room almost killed my daughter and it was caused by an improperly installed egress window, what are our rights?

My wife and daughter where staying overnight at her mother’s house. During a storm the egress window filled up with water and the window exploded sending glass all over the room. The room quickly filled with water so much my 2 year old was under the water drowning. My wife got a few cuts from the glass. My wife grabbed my daughter and brought her upstairs.

Asked on July 13, 2015 under Personal Injury, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Liability, or being obligated to pay for any damages or injuries: that depends on fault, and if you can show that someone (e.g. a contractor or builder) was at fault in the installation of the window, that person or business could potentially be liable for any/all damages.

2) Damages (or the amount of money you could get from a liable party): you can't recover for a near miss or what could have happened, but only for actual injuries and medical costs. If your family is basically ok but for some cuts from glass, all you could sue for would be the cost to treat those cuts (e.g. your out-of-pocket for going to the emergency room or urgent care walk-in center) and, possibly a *small* amount of pain and suffering if there was impairment lasting several weeks or longer or faint scarring. It may not be economically worthwhile to sue if, as we hope, everyone came out ok.

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