Do I have a lawsuit if my 6 year old son was scratched by a classmate with his 3 fingernails and now there is a scar down my son’s face?

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Do I have a lawsuit if my 6 year old son was scratched by a classmate with his 3 fingernails and now there is a scar down my son’s face?

The school downplayed the situation and I was not concerned at first because kids will be kids. However, my son now has a 2 cm scar on his left cheek. Is the school liable or are the child’s parents liable now that my son has a scar on his face?

Asked on May 10, 2017 under Personal Injury, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The school is only liable if you can show that they were negligent, or unreasonably careless, in how they supervised the children. But if the school was properly supervising the children and the other child scratched your child anyway, they are not liable.
The parents may be liable if the scratch occured because the other child was being unreasonably careless *as judged by the standards of children his age* or did this deliberately (i.e. attacked your child). If the scratch occurred because the boys were playing or roughhousing, there is no liability because there is no wrongful behavior: injuries occur during play, and the law accepts that so long as no one was acting inappropriately.
Even if the school and/or child's parents might be liable, it is not clear that a lawsuit is economically worthwhile: the amount of compensation for a 2cm scar might not justify the cost of the suit, since you'd likely need to hire a medical expert to testify and would also need an attorney, since you are suing for your child, not for yourself (you can only represent yourself in court if you are a non-attorney).


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