Am I responsible if a kid in the neighborhood got a hold of my prescription drugs and ended up in the hospital?

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Am I responsible if a kid in the neighborhood got a hold of my prescription drugs and ended up in the hospital?

I am currently staying/ living with a woman and her 15 year old son. The son and a neighborhood teenager went into the room I am staying in and took my prescription Xanax. The neighborhood boy was found unconscious in his driveway and taken to the ER. His parents are threatening to sue. Could either the woman I am staying with or I be arrested and/or sued?

Asked on February 26, 2012 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This is a civil case (lawsuit); not a criminal case.  You won't be arrested and neither will the woman with whom you are staying.

The parents of the injured kid could sue you for negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, the parents of the injured kid would have to prove duty (of due care) mentioned above, breach of duty (failure to keep the medicine in a secure place), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.

Actual cause means but for your medicine would the kid have been injured?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable, intervening acts wihich would relieve you of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation the parents of the injured kid are seeking in their lawsuit.  Damages would include compensation for the medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

The woman with whom you are staying would also be liable either based on negligence as discussed above or based on premises liability if she is the owner of the property,  Under premises liability, the owner of the property is liable for the injuries of a guest or trespasser due to a condition on the property.  If she is the owner of the property, her homeowner's insurance company may provide coverage.  This will depend on the provisions in the policy whether or not this type of injury is covered.

 


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