When a child is hurt at a family business it can put both your business life and your family into turmoil. Serious injuries can mean parents need to divide their attention between the company and their family. And then there are the bills. Do you have the option to use the company’s insurance to cover the costs?
A Sad Story of a Child Hurt at a Family Business
McCarty Liang was 5 years old when he was hurt at his parents’ Chinese restaurant. He and his mother, Guo Yin Cao, had stopped into the restaurant, Chan’s Chinese Restaurant, Inc., late on Father’s Day to surprise his father, Guang Hui Liang. While they waited for Liang to close up shop, a car came to the company’s drive-thru window. Cao left McCarty alone in the dining room and went to tell the customer the restaurant was closed for the evening.
As little boys do, McCarty wandered away from the dining room area and back to where the restaurant stored its industrial meat grinder. When the 5-year-old attempted to use the device, he caught his hand in the machine. Eventually, the doctors had to amputate his hand because of the injuries.
Parental Immunity and Negligent Supervision
The family went to lawyers looking for options to help the boy, who apparently filed a lawsuit against the company and his father to try to get liability insurance payments to cover the costs. But the insurance-company lawyers representing Liang said they couldn’t do it. Parental immunity meant Liang was protected against lawsuits by his own children.
In Michigan, parental liability applies to any tort claim, like negligence, that are based on:
- A parent’s authority over the child
- A parent’s discretion over decisions related to a child’s food, clothing, housing, medical, or other care
In a recent decision Liang v Guang Hui Liang, the Michigan Court of Appeals said that included negligent supervision claims by a child against his father, but not against his father’s company. It refused to shield Chang’s Chinese Restaurant from a lawsuit by one of its patrons, even if that patron was the son of the owners.
Premises Liability Gives Access to Insurance Money
That meant even though McCarty’s family couldn’t sue Liang for negligent supervision, it could possibly collect insurance money based on a premises liability claim against the restaurant. Premises liability is a type of personal injury case that protects people from injuries caused because of unsafe conditions of the land.
Property owners, including family businesses, have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent injury to children caused by dangerous conditions on their property. The court said Liang didn’t have an obligation to supervise McCarty as a business owner, but that the company did need to take reasonable steps to secure the meat grinder to make sure no children were injured by the dangerous piece of equipment. The fact that the entity involved was a family business didn’t change the duty of care owed to its youngest patrons.
When tragedy strikes and a child is hurt at a family business, you need personal injury attorneys who can build a claim for insurance benefits. No one wants to sue a family member in these cases. But by filing the right personal injury and premises liability claims, you may be able to receive insurance payments to cover your child’s injuries and your costs as parents.
The Macomb Law Group, is a personal injury law firm in Clinton Township, MI. Our attorneys can help you and your family consider options when a child is hurt at a family business. If your loved one has been seriously injured, contact Macomb Law Group and get our team working for you.