Visitor Question

Preschool teachers had no idea my daughter had a broken elbow?

Submitted By: Mita (Pleasant Hill, CA)

My 3 year old preschool daughter had another child fall on her from above while on the playground. She had a broken elbow which needed surgical intervention to fix. The teachers at the school had no idea whatsoever of this incident (there were 3 of them supervising the kids).

It wasn’t until I went to pick my daughter up as per schedule (almost an hour later) that they had the slightest idea.

This seems like extreme negligence to me. The teacher admitted to not knowing anything about the incident and questioned my terrified 3 year old as to why she didn’t tell the teacher about the incident. How do I go about handling this? Do I file a lawsuit or formal complaint? Or an insurance claim for the medical bills? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Mita,

It is difficult to comprehend how your daughter sustained a fracture and didn’t cry out in extreme pain. If she had a fractured elbow, she would have been crying out loud enough for the teachers to have been aware of the injury.

Children are frequently injured on playgrounds, especially when they are climbing up and down on playground apparatuses. Falls are inevitable. Because falls can happen in an instant, even the most attentive teacher may not be able to stop the fall.

If, after falling your daughter didn’t cry out in pain, it would have been difficult for the teachers to know she had been injured. On the other hand, when the other child fell on your daughter, it can be argued the teachers should have checked with your daughter to see if she was injured.

You have a right to ask the school to pay for the medical bills related to your daughter’s injury. If they refuse, you may have a difficult time finding an attorney to accept your case. There just isn’t enough money in a single fracture to make it worth the attorney’s time and effort. Such claims normally don’t result in substantial settlements.

Speak with the principal. State your frustration with the injury and your opinion that the teachers were negligent. Ask the principal to compensate you for your daughter’s medical bills, the costs of her medications, medical building parking fees, the cost of gasoline required to drive to treatment, and even your lost wages if you had to take off time from work to take her to and from her medical treatment.

In all likelihood, the principal will not agree to pay those amounts. Doing so would be an admission of teacher negligence. That would set a dangerous precedent for other parents to seek compensation each time their child is injured and the parent believes the injury was due to teacher negligence.

Your next options would be to sue the school in small claims court. In the State of California, small claims courts have jurisdiction in claims up to $10,000.

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

Best of luck,

Published: January 31, 2016

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