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Who’s Liable When Your Child Gets Injured at Someone Else’s House?

by Louise W. Rice
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Leaving a child in someone else’s care will always cause anxiety when parents are involved. This is especially the case today, as parents are more protective of their children than they used to be. We want our children to be safe, so we take a lot of extra measures. We also expect that when they go on a playdate at someone else’s house, they will come back unharmed.

That said, kids will be kids, and accidents can always happen. They may decide to climb a tree, which can result in falling in breaking their arm. Or they may play tag and twist their ankle in the process. If they are at your house, you may keep your eyes on them enough to prevent it. However, what can you do if they get injured at someone else’s house? Well, that may depend on the circumstances.

Determining Premise Liability

When your child is off to a friend’s house to play, they become something referred to as a “licensee” when they enter your property. In other words, they will become a social guest. According to Rhode Island law, the host needs to make sure that their home is reasonably safe and that the child will receive age-appropriate supervision.

If your child gets injured on their property, your Rhode Island personal injury lawyer will need to prove the following points:

  • The homeowner owed a duty of care, ensuring safe surroundings for your child
  • Duty of care was breached
  • As a result of the breach, your child had an accident
  • Said accident caused your child to become injured in the process

A good attorney should be able to prove your case, employing the best strategy. If the incident was caused by their negligence, then they will likely be held responsible for the fact that their child got injured.

This only applies when the parent in question agrees to allow the children to have a playdate at their home. In that case, they are accepting the responsibility of ensuring their safety. However, if the children are trespassing, without the parent’s permission, liability is not as simple.

Premises liability can also become sketchy, because the fault may be the child’s, and not the parents. The hosting parents need not watch the child’s every movement. They just need to warm them or create the environment to make sure they are safe. Therefore, if your child was playing tag and tripped over their own feet, it’s their fault. However, if they slipped and fell because the parents decided not to shovel the driveway or lock the door to the pool area, they may be held liable.

Steps to Handle the Process

Friends may be friends, but when a child gets injured, it becomes a parent’s nightmare. If this happens, here are the steps that you will want to take.

1. Seek Medical Help

First things first, you need to make sure that your child is ok. Before you start pointing fingers, make sure that the injuries of your child are tended to. The diagnosis of your child may help you determine whether or not legal action is due.

2. Understand the Situation

Now that the child has received the appropriate medical care, it’s time to find out what happened. Talk with your child and ask them what led to this situation. The parents may have warned them not to play in certain areas of the property, but they ignored the warning and went there anyway.

In that case, it’s no one’s fault but the child’s. Children past the age of 10, for instance, are seen as responsible enough to understand a hazard and avoid it. Therefore, if you tell them not to go close to the swimming pool area, but they steal your backdoor keys and do so anyway, the fault is not the homeowner’s

However, if the incident happened because the parents did not give a warning, the liability is theirs. The same applies if weren’t attentive enough to see them going into the problem area, without having warned them first.

3. Discuss with the Other Parents

Lastly, if it was determined that the property owners were at fault, you need to take the matter to them. If they accept the responsibility and offer to pay the medical bill, it’s not essential to pursue legal action. However, if they don’t, even if they are clearly liable, you are entitled to file a claim against them. The process may be longer in this case.

The Bottom Line

A child getting injured is no joke, especially if you trust someone else with their care. Luckily, there are steps you may take to obtain justice.

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