It’s every parent’s nightmare: an accident that leaves a small child physically and emotionally maimed.
When we send our children to a daycare center, we trust that the teachers and administrators in charge have taken the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of the precious little people we place in their care.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. When an accident happens, the parents’ first concern is for the child to receive medical attention. But when the injury is serious and permanent—and when negligence is a contributing factor—the parents’ next concern is to protect the child’s future to the extent that the law provides. With so much at stake, it’s best to enlist the professional strength and support of personal injury attorneys who will fight out of a shared commitment to improve the child’s chances of experiencing a normal and healthy future.
That was the case for Jessica Edwards* and her 3-year-old daughter, Addy*.
Personal injury from a device intended for safety
The morning of the accident, Jessica dropped Addy off at her daycare center just as she did every day. But while she was at work, Jessica got the call that every parent dreads: there had been an accident; Addy was injured; please come immediately.
Jessica’s distress grew steadily and rapidly as she drove to the school. But what she discovered when she got there was worse than she could have imagined.
The children had been lining up to go outside when a large fire extinguisher was bumped off its wall hook and landed on Addy’s hand. The impact crushed one of Addy’s fingers and severed another one from her hand. The severed digit was saved on ice for possible reattachment, and Addy was rushed to the nearest emergency room.
Child injury: a lifetime of repercussions
Addy suffered great physical pain, and the damage to her hand turned out to be permanent. The physicians tried to reattach her finger, but ultimately the procedure unsuccessful.
The pain and trauma affected Addy emotionally and developmentally, transforming her from a happy, well-adjusted youngster into an anxious little girl. Following the accident, her family noticed she was acting withdrawn, and (not surprisingly) deathly afraid of fire extinguishers and ambulances.
The real source of her suffering: negligence
Jessica and Addy became our clients. And Addy’s future became, in many respects, our responsibility as child injury attorneys.
As we researched the case and filed public records requests with various governmental agencies, it became apparent that the accident and its damage should never have happened in the first place. The fire extinguisher that injured Addy had been carelessly hung on a simple J-hook. As such, it was susceptible to being dislodged without much effort or force. A heavy fire extinguisher in a daycare center should be attached, at minimum, with a strap. Or, for even more security, it should be encased in a cabinet mounted on the wall. Either of these precautions would have prevented Addy’s injury.
We spoke with fire system experts who confirmed that these additional safety precautions were relatively inexpensive. We also confirmed that the same daycare franchise had branches in other states that kept fire extinguishers encased in secure cabinets. So, why did this facility fail to practice the same safety measures? As it turned out, there was no good reason.
Personal injury attorneys seek justice and more
Determining fair compensation for damages is always a challenge for personal injury cases involving young children. How do you adequately determine the damage (and its future implications) for a life that is only beginning to unfold?
In Addy’s situation, physical rehabilitation was only the beginning of the costs that would need to be covered. Having experienced such an intense trauma at a young age, it was vital that she receive whatever therapy would be necessary throughout her development. We were able to reach a settlement with the daycare system, one that would accommodate Addy’s immediate and future needs.
Addy’s family wanted the satisfaction of knowing steps would be taken to prevent a tragedy such as Addy’s from ever being repeated. As part of the resolution, the daycare committed to a review of its fire extinguishers nationwide. Such conditions are available only in negotiated agreements, as opposed to jury verdicts, which can only award monetary compensation. The impact of these types of commitments is widespread and ensures that something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
If you find yourself or a family member in a personal injury situation that calls for civil litigation, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced Ohio personal injury lawyers at Cooper & Elliott for legal assistance. We’re here to help.
*Names in this article have been changed to protect our clients’ privacy.
The outcome of any client’s case will depend on the particular legal and factual circumstances of the case.