i can't believe what i am reading here. this kind of stuff grinds my gears, big time. and i'm talking about the responses in this thread, not the story.
first, to lwp's point that lawyers are evil, or at least at the root of it... what gives you the right to tar and feather an entire profession? what about human rights lawyers? or public defenders? or the office of the public guardian and trustee that acts on behalf of kids when their parents are too selfish to look out for their best interests? or what about the lawyers that come to save your ass when you get in a troubling situation, either of your own fault or because you are caught up in something beyond your control? there are countless fantastic and underappreciated lawyers out there that are tirelessly working on behalf of the marginalized and underpriviledged, and tons of lawyers that do amazing and vital work in our society. you just grouped all of these people together with any low-life sleezeball lawyer that you really want to criticize. so open up your eyes and think before you cast judgement on an entire profession. fuck this pisses me off.
second, on insurancee companies and this case: the neighbour of this family had their house badly damaged. they should not be on the hook to pay for this. that's why they have insurance (which is a vital aspect of our economy because disasters happen, and people are not all rich. there is a need to protect property and a need to give financial compensation to those that undergo hardship for which they were not the cause). now that insurance company will have to look at what the cause of the disaster is and find fault, because someone will have to pay. and that's why businesses are insured for the work they do. if i have a contractor working on my house and blows the house up, he'd better be insured against that kind of risk. and if i'm hiring him, it's up to me to make sure he has that insurance.
so what happened here? a family hired a 12 year old to look after their kids. firstly, i think this is way, way to young to do that. secondly, she obviously did a terrible job. if, indeed, the fire was started because a 5-year old was playing with a lighter, it was the babysitter that fucked up. how does a 5-year old get a lighter? why isn't he stopped from playing with it? is he being watched? is the babysitter not paying attention? there is fault here and it caused major damage that the neighbour should be compensated for. the hassle to deal with all of this lands with the insurance company. they will sue who they need to in order to seek damages. the family might be at fault for hiring a babysitter that was no good, and for hiring someone that was uninsured, but certainly the neighbour who's house was damaged was not at fault. who's going to pay for the repairs? they need an insurance company to protect their home, and they need a lawyer to help them seek a reasonable settlement. all of this is directly in line with the basic values of property ownership.
if a girl is going to be a babysitter, some responsibilty needs to come with that. she made a massive mistake. to me there is no question. she should be insured or the family should be insured, because if something happens, compensation is going to have to be paid to other innocent parties that have been effected.
none of this means she wasn't a hero for saving the kids and pets, but being a hero for saving people from something you should have prevented does not excuse you for contributing to the disaster in the first place. she assumed responsibility by taking the job, and the family assumed responsibility by hiring her. they are all at fault, and fault definitely matters.