The Price of Giving: Can Someone Sue me For a Gift?
An avalanche of gifts are opened every December 25th. While we hope you open gifts safely, there’s always a chance that a present on December 25th could wind up injuring someone on December 26th.
What happens if a Christmas gift ultimately winds up hurting someone? Can the giver sue you? Who, exactly, is liable for your injury?
Liability Depends on What They Knew
Let’s say you gift one of those hoverboards that all the kids got for Christmas over the past few years. Hoverboards were a craze for a while - until they started catching fire and exploding.
That hasn’t stopped them from being sold, though, and one could appear under a Christmas tree of someone you know on Christmas morning.
Do I Need a Product Liability Attorney? Will This End up in Court?
Back to the gift. They get the hoverboard and ooh and aww over it until one fateful day, when, while riding on it, they fall off and break a wrist. Can they sue you?
Under that circumstance, the gift giver would have no liability. Neither would the hoverboard manufacturer if you falling off the hoverboard was an accident and not related to the hoverboard itself. It’s the same principle behind why Ford doesn’t have liability if you get into an accident in your F-150 - provided the accident was a result of human error and not the truck itself.
Let’s say, though, that the hoverboard suffered a structural error that caused your injury. The gift-giver still isn’t liable (although the hoverboard manufacturer could be).
Of course, there’s always a “what if.” What if the gift-giver knew about the defect and gave you the gift anyway without telling you about what they knew?
That’s a different set of circumstances. If a gift-giver could reasonably be expected to know about a defect in a gift that could result in injury, and they gave you the gift without alerting you to what they knew, they could be held liable. It’s not a guarantee, and liability would depend on the circumstances of your case. But the potential is there, and it’s a case worth exploring.
It’s all about what they knew, based on what a reasonable person would be expected to know and do.
Keeping Safe from Christmas Mishaps and a Small Claims Lawsuit
We sincerely hope you enjoy an injury-free holiday season, and most of us will. To increase the chances you’ll be one of those people who make it through Christmas without injury, make sure you do the following:
- Read all instructions that come with your gift, especially the part that tells you how to use the product safely.
- Check for product recalls before you use or operate the gift. Gift-givers may not be aware that there’s a known safety issue with the gift they’ve given you.
- Read reviews for products before you use them. The first we ever hear about unsafe products almost always comes from consumers who report issues, and these usually come through product reviews.
- Supervise your children when they use or operate Christmas gifts. This goes double for any gift that involves motion (bikes, hoverboards, etc.).
You can limit your liability as a gift-giver by knowing everything you can about the presents you give people. Know if they’ve been recalled or if they have known safety issues. If the original packaging has been tampered with, exchange it for a product that has intact packaging. Inspect unpackaged presents for errors or defects that could make them unsafe.
Depending on the specifics of the situation, a person may be able to sue you for giving them a gift that ends up hurting them. There is a risk of liability if you give someone a present when you know there is a flaw that might cause them harm and you don't tell them about it.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.