Should I expect a lawsuit for accidentally causing someone to fall over?

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Should I expect a lawsuit for accidentally causing someone to fall over?

During a local community function, my 18 month old daughter ran out the front door of the community center, toward the parking lot. A young mentally and physically disabled man was in the doorway holding the door open and blocking the exit. As I attempted to get by him, I pushed the door, causing him to lose his balance and fall. After catching my daughter, I assisted him to his feet and he stated he was ok. During the night, he walked around the center many times and I checked on him multiple times. Each time he stated he was ok. Should I fear a lawsuit?

Asked on May 26, 2012 under Personal Injury, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You likely do not need to fear liability:

1) First, someone is not liable (or financially responsible) simply because some action of theirs injured another. Rather, to be liable, one must have acted either intentionally wrongfully (deliberately caused the injury) or at least negligently (unreasonably carelessly). What is "negligent" is judged by the "reasonable person" standard--what would a reasonable person do in a like situation. It is almost certainly the case that there was nothing unreasonable or negligent about trying to catch up with a toddler running for a parking lot, even if that meant having to push past someone who was blocking the doorway. From what you write, you acted in the way any reasonable parent or guardian would have acted.

2) Even if you had been negligent, you can only be sued for actual injuries, economic losses, and medical costs directly caused by your act. If your pushing the man did not injure him in any significant way or require medical attention, there is nothing you could be sued for.


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