Injuries to children can have lifelong physical and emotional consequences and are particularly devastating when they happen on school grounds. In a recent case, our client was a minor who was sitting on a large cement bench on the school property, waiting for her class to start. As she stood up, the bench tipped over and landed on her foot. The bench was not adequately secured to the ground, and the child suffered permanent damage to two of her toes. The child's mother came to us to make sure her daughter got compensation for her suffering.

The School Should Have Known About the Dangerous Condition

We took a multifaceted approach to prove the school district's liability. Schools are required to have written policies regarding children's safety and security. In particular, they should have procedures for inspecting and installing all equipment on their grounds. We obtained a copy of the school district's policies and found that the school custodian was responsible for ensuring the safety of things like benches. However, they had not been inspected for several years. Surprisingly, no other minors had been injured; this bench was an accident waiting to happen.

In addition, schools have a greater duty of care because parents trust them with the care and custody of their children. Children have a right to education in our country, and parents have a right to have their children taken care of and protected in schools. The school district should only have had a bench of this weight and instability if it was secured to the floor to prevent these types of injuries. The school district had also received notice of this dangerous condition and failed to do anything to make it safe for the students.

Misconceptions About Suing Schools Can Affect Jury Decisions

School districts can be difficult to sue because jurors think any settlement or verdict for the victim will come out of the school budget, affecting the school's ability to pay for books and provide education in the community. This is false; school districts have substantial insurance policies to cover injuries on their grounds, and it's the insurance company that pays the settlements. Unfortunately, juries are either unaware of this fact or are actually told to disregard where the money's coming from. This false belief about verdicts and school budgets could potentially minimize damages and needs to be addressed by an experienced injury attorney.

Victory for Our Client Helps Children Across the School District

Fortunately, our client suffered relatively minor injuries in the incident because her mother knew what to do after a school-related injury. After the bench crushed two of her daughter's toes, the girl was taken to the emergency room, where her mother was told they would have to amputate. Our client's mother refused and went to UCLA so her daughter could undergo hyperbaric treatments to restore blood flow to the toes and prevent permanent physical limitations. Our client received 50 treatments in the hyperbaric chamber and was able to avoid amputation, but she would live with lifelong deformities of her second and third toes.

Case Barnett Law settled this case for $750,000. After the settlement paid our client's outstanding medical bills, costs paid by the minor's medical insurance company, and our attorney fees, the rest of the money was deposited into a blocked bank account. Our client will have exclusive access to these remaining funds after she turns 18, at which point she can use the money for college, to buy a house, or for anything else that she sees fit at that time.

It's essential that these types of cases be brought because it's the only way to effect change in school districts. School districts and their insurers need to take their duty to provide safe environments for education seriously. When justice is done and appropriate verdicts are given, insurance companies cannot continue to act like they're above the law.

Always Consult a California Child Injury Attorney If Something Like This Happens in Your Family

Countless children are hurt every year by people and places that are supposed to protect them. If your child or a minor family member has been hurt at school, on a playground, or somewhere else they should have been safe, Case Barnett Law can help. Please call our office at 949-409-0055 or contact us online to begin your free, confidential consultation, or start reading our guide, Child Injury Cases: A Simple Guide for Parents and Guardians.

$ 775,000

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients' cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case.