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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.


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