If a child pulled on my child’s arm and dislocated his elbow, can we sue their parents?

UPDATED: Jan 15, 2015

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If a child pulled on my child’s arm and dislocated his elbow, can we sue their parents?

Asked on January 15, 2015 under Personal Injury, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

IF the act was done intentionally to harm your child, or was unreasonably careless, then you most likely could sue--though bear in mind that, if there was no long-last damage or impairment (as we sincerely hope), then you would only be able to recover your out-of-pocket medical costs (not paid by health insurance), which may not be worth a lawsuit.

If the act was not unreasonably careless, however, there would be no liability. So, for example, if the children were playing some sport in which there is some contact, or otherwise playing by mutual consent (they both wanted to play) a game involving some wrestling or roughhousing, then it's unlikely there would be liability unless the other child was definitely excessive in the force he applied--that's because people do get injured in contact sports or games, and there is nothing negligent, or unreasonably careless, in a child playing such a game "by the rules" or otherwise reasonably, even if there's bad luck and someone is hurt. Or if your son was falling and the other child grabbed him to stop him, or the other child was falling and reflexively reached out and grabbed whomever was closest, there again would be no negligence or unreasonable carelessness and no liability.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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