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My son hit the next door neighbor's babysitter in the eye with a plastic baseball. Are we liable for her medical bills?

Atlanta, GA |

My son is six and the babysitter is twenty-three. The accident happened on the neighbor's property. The sitter admitted this was an accident but was initially requesting we pay the co-pays for all 7 of her visits at $45 a piece plus all the parking and gas fees. My husband said he will not pay unless he is told to by the courts. She said she will not be pursuing any further but I am afraid she may. Are we liable?

Attorney Answers 10

  1. In my view, yes you and your husband are liable. Report the matter to your homeowners carrier. Do not jeopardize coverage. Aside from that, isn't the right thing to do to show your empathy (and the fact that the babysitter may have been watching your son and could have been hurt worse) to pay her out-of-pocket (ok, maybe not the gas and parking).

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff

  2. Yes you are responsible; why would you not want to pay that? Id jump on that immediately and pay it and settle it now in case she has some kind of vision problem develop later.

  3. Maybe, maybe not. As the other posters have suggested, it may be wise to pay for her visits and throw another couple hundred dollars on top to settle this.

    As a person entering your house for business purposes, you have a duty to warn the babysitter of known dangerous conditions. It may also be asserted that the babysitter assumed the risk of something like this happening by watching a young child.

    Take the high road and pay the bills.

  4. This question is as much a moral one as a legal one, and perhaps with different answers. Legally, you may not be liable because of your son's age; on the other hand (as the other lawyers have mentioned), it is the right thing to do. If you do not pay, and the babysitter decides to make a claim or file suit, it will cost more in your time (and perhaps money) than just paying her bills now. You always could have her sign a release or, more simply, just write "in full settlement" in the memo section of the check your husband should write.

    Please remember, however, that specific questions entail specific facts as to which an experienced lawyer can give you reliable advice. Both my and other lawyers' answers to questions on Avvo are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship; nor should they be considered legal advice. They also are simply responses to the questions that are posed, and do not necessarily address every circumstance in your particular situation. Your best approach may be to contact a lawyer directly through Avvo, and have a consultation at which time you can provide complete details.

  5. You all could be very much liable. It would be best to resolve the matter short of a court action due to the expenses and time involved with a court action.

  6. Your husband is about to possibly get both of you in legal hot water. Yes, you're liable. And you already should have reported this to your homeowners or renters insurance, which may cover it (they may deny coverage if you fail to report it promptly, or try to settle). If you don't have insurance, write a check for that very reasonable amount and stop arguing, and pay a lawyer to draft a proper release. Show this post to your husband.

    If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer unless you sign a retainer agreement). Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. Note that I am only licensed in Georgia and thus cannot practice in other states. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy. State bar rules require that I disclose my name/contact information in any communication (Glen Ashman)

  7. Under Georgia law, a 6 year old is below the age of tort responsibility. Parents can be responsible for torts of a child when they entrust a dangerous instrumentality to the child with knowledge of a dangerous propensity, or when they negligently supervise the child. Neither of those appear to fit these facts. However, your homeowners insurance policy probably would cover these medical bills under a no-fault "medical payments" coverage line. If you have such coverage, I would send the bills to the homeowners insurance carrier by certified mail, return receipt requested, with a cover letter referencing the policy number and date of incident, and requesting (demanding) that they pay the bills within 60 day pursuant to the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 33-4-6 which provides for bad faith penalties for failure to pay within 60 days. I would send copies of that letter to the babysitter's medical creditors to cool their jets, and to the babysitter. That way you take care of the babysitter without forking out cash from your pocket.

  8. No, there is no legal liability for these actions but be a decent human being and take responsibility for the copays etc. It does not open the door to further liability. Set a good example for your child.

  9. Georgia Code § 51-2-3. Liability for malicious acts of minor child-states as follows:
    (a) Every parent or guardian having the custody and control over a minor child or children under the age of 18 shall be liable in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 plus court costs for the willful or malicious acts of the minor child or children resulting in reasonable medical expenses to another, damage to the property of another, or both reasonable medical expenses and damage to property.

    With the facts you have provided, I doubt that you would be held liable, but the babysitter's factual allegations could change. In any event, as others suggest, you should pay for the co-pays, etc. and get a Release from her so you cannot be sued; don't take a chance legally, and do the right thing!

  10. Not likely. Accidents happen. Just because there was an accident does not mean you can be sued. I always suggest everyone see an attorney. Most consultations are free. When we meet clients face-to-face, we can elicit more details to make sure you are protected.

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