Is my aunt liable for her boyfriend’s attempted suicide because he took her pills?

UPDATED: Dec 31, 2010

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Is my aunt liable for her boyfriend’s attempted suicide because he took her pills?

My aunt’s boyfriend attempted suicide a few days ago; he is still in a coma at the hospital. His family is saying that they are pressing criminal charges against her because the pills were her prescription medications. He is a known drug addict and alcoholic. He even told the police that he was trying to kill himself.

Asked on December 31, 2010 under Criminal Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If your aunt is actually sued or threatened with prosecution, she should absolutely get an attorney to defend her--you can never take lawsuits or criminal charges lightly. That said, it's most likely she would not be responsible so long as she took common, everyday precautions with her prescription medication--kept them in her medicine chest or a bureau, clearly labeled as to what they are and with the usual warnings on them, etc. Even when an adult is known to have psychological issues, dependency issues, and/or to be suicidal, other adults are not generally required to put away all their own medication, lock windows, get rid of knives and scissors, etc.--we are not responsible for other adult's mistakes and misuse of our belongings. If she was somehow particularly careless or irresponsible about her medication--kept it right next to to vodka bottles, in a home with a depresssed alcoholic--that could theoreticaly give rise to some liability.

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