Avoiding potential for self injury at pediatrician's office?

by Maria
(Tuscaloosa, AL)

I work at a Pediatrician's Office. There are a few patients' parents who allow their children to destroy artwork and paintings hanging in the waiting room, and also in the exam room. We ended up removing EVERY piece of art from the walls in the exam room.

We tried hanging some things from the ceiling, but had a mother actually hold her child up high enough to pull the object off of the ceiling! The mother then allowed the child to chew on the object!

I want to put artwork back up in the rooms to make the rooms less dreary, but my fear is that someone will come in and deliberately pull a painting down to injure themselves.

My question is this: If a child (or anyone accompanying the child for that matter) is injured by doing something like that, can we still be held responsible? Could we be sued and then lose the case? How do we protect ourselves from liability for this sort of behavior? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Avoiding potential for self injury at pediatrician's office?":

Maria (Tuscaloosa, AL):

The pediatrician has actual notice the wall hangings may injure the children or their parents. As a result, while it may sound unfair, the pediatrician, and not his or her employees, may be held liable for injuries sustained by parents or their children who may be injured by the wall hangings.

If the wall hangings are left and a child or parent is injured, the pediatrician may be liable for their injuries and resulting damages.

Damages can include medical bills, related out-of-pocket expenses, a parent's lost wages (if he or she had to take time off from work to care for an injured child), or if the parent was injured and had to miss work because of treatment or recovery from an injury. Finally, damages can also include pain and suffering.

There is a "silver lining" to the issue of negligence. The State of Alabama is a Pure Comparative Fault state. This means in the event of a claim or lawsuit filed by an injured person, if the injured person is found to have been even 1% responsible for his or her injuries (in this case possibly their children), then that person is wholly barred from compensation.

Under the circumstances, presuming the wall hangings are properly hung, and a parent permits their child to pull on it, or otherwise cause their child or themselves to be injured, then the parent of the child is wholly barred from compensation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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