What to do about giving physical therapy and my liability?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What to do about giving physical therapy and my liability?

I am a caregiver for a special needs child. The child lives at home their with mom and dad. The parents have asked me to start performing physical therapy exercises with the child. A little background on the child, she is 15 years old and has brittle bone disease with uncontrollable seizures. She cannot walk and has limited use of her arms and legs. Their house has a ceiling lift – a movable track runs along the ceiling. The new exercise would involve suspending the child from the ceiling lift until she is standing. They want me to start helping her march in place and to begin helping her learn to walk. In order to prevent the lift from moving while she is suspended, they have suggested putting another piece of her equipment behind her. My concern is her risk of injury if she has a seizure while suspended and hits the piece of equipment resulting in injury, or if she twists/turns while suspended resulting in injury. I have no professional insurance coverage. I am concerned with what my liability would be.

Asked on June 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your potential liability is enormous--say that if during her therapy, you cause her some injury resulting in long-lasting or permanent disabilty, or tens (or hundreds!) of thousands of eventual medical bills: you could be liable for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. What you should do:
1) Form an LLC or similar entity to conduct business through: that will protect you from much (not all, but much) business- or work-related liability--and, incidentally, make it easier to track and take advantage of work-related business expenses for tax purposes. Consult with an attorney about the best business structure for your needs.
2) Get adequate professional liabilty insurance and do not do this unitl you get it.

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