A Florida mother has filed a lawsuit against her daughter’s former charter school as well as the maker of an inflatable “Sumo wrestling” suit, alleging that a “Spirit Day” activity went horribly wrong when the school failed to make sure the girl’s helmet fit properly, and the manufacturer failed to warn of possible danger.
As a result, her family said the girl’s head hit the ground repeatedly, causing her to suffer traumatic brain injury that has resulted in dramatic personality changes, regression in the ability to communicate, blurred vision, headaches and severe anxiety.
Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys know that in preparing children for back-to-school, parents must recognize a significant number of injuries to children occur while at school or while students are engaged in school-related activities or events. Some of these cases may be compensable, depending on the level of control the school had over the student at the time of the incident, and whether school administrators and staffers might have reasonably foreseen the risk of injury.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 4 million children are treated at emergency rooms annually due to injuries sustained at school. It is the most common health problem treated by school personnel. In fact, one study found that 80 percent of elementary school children visit a school nurse at least once for an injury-related complaint throughout the school year.
Although school shootings and other violent acts tend to grab the most media attention, the vast majority of injuries at school are not violent and are unintentional. Usually, they occur on playgrounds or in the course of playing sports.
Some of the primary reasons why these injuries occur, according to a recent study by the Utah Department of Health, include:
–Poor monitoring and supervision of children;
–Lack of appropriate safety procedures;
–Lack of school awareness regarding injury prevention.
Research indicates that among elementary school injuries, 70 percent occur on the playground. Among secondary students, the majority occur in gym class. The most common types of injuries included fractures, lacerations, bumps/bruises, sprains and strains and concussions.
In the recent case out of Florida, the victim was a 15-year-old freshman at a charter school who agreed to engage in a “fun” activity for spirit day when she donned an inflatable suit. Although the activity occurred on a cushioned mat, her mother says she fell backward during the match, smacking her head on the concrete floor repeatedly.
Another case out of Colorado involving use of the same product (albeit, by an adult) resulted in a $2 million award for damages, following a head injury resulting in severe brain damage.
Schools seeking to prevent child injury should establish strict playground safety rules, always have trained adults and supervisors present, develop a routine for playground equipment inspection, provide routine injury prevention training, ensure all equipment is in good condition and age/size appropriate and that any sports programs involve adequate protective gear and supervision.
If a student does suffer a school-related injury in Florida, parents should immediately contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Lawsuit: Inflatable sumo wrestling led to brain injury at Miami-Dade charter school, July 22, 2014, By David Ovalle, The Miami Herald
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