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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 100583
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Hello. My 13 year old son was using a weight machine during

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Hello. My 13 year old son was using a weight machine during gym class at school last week, and when he let the weights down, a narrow bar on the machine severed his finger off, with only very small piece of skin holding it together. The nurse from the school casually called me, telling me my son's "finger was gone" and that I should come pick him up and take him to the doctor. When I picked him up, his tshirt was covered in blood, and he had a single, crumpled up bloody paper towel wrapped around his finger, which he was holding onto. I proceeded to take him to the emergency room (he was feeling woozie and nauseous on the way down there) where the ER doctor did a nerve block (extremely painful) in his finger, took a look at the finger, xrayed it, and said he wasn't sure the severed piece could be saved. Then he made an appointment for us to see a hand surgeon later that afternoon. I took him to that appointment, where the surgeon did another nerve block, cleaned the finger and severed piece, and said, while he couldn't guarantee the severed finger piece will heal or "survive," he would go ahead and stitch it up and we'd just have to wait and see. He did say even if it did heal, the finger would never look the same as it did so there would be some permanent damage in that regard. This is where we are now... Since this has happened, my sister, who is also a public school teacher in this same school district, checked with her school nurse about how this was handled, and she was APPALLED that the school nurse at my son's school didn't call 911 for an ambulance, had only a crumpled up paper towel wrapped around his finger, and didn't seem overly concerned that my son had obviously lost a lot of blood. My question is - with this little bit of information I've provided to you (there are obviously other details related to this situation) do you think this situation would warrant filing a personal injury lawsuit against the school/school system? I appreciate your insight and guidance. Best, -XXXXX

Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your son's situation.

do you think this situation would warrant filing a personal injury lawsuit against the school/school system?

The answer is likely yes. Allow me to explain. To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state.

Here, this may be a cause for negligence. To establish a cause of action in negligence a plaintiff must prove the existence of four elements: a duty owed to him, a breach of that duty, a legally cognizable causal relationship between the breach of duty and the harm suffered, and damages. Jacques v. First Nat'l Bank, 515 A. 2d 756 - Md: Court of Appeals 1986 (internal citations omitted).

Here, arguably the school had a DUTY to watch over him carefully and to take reasonable, proper action once he was injured. They arguably did not. The Courts in Maryland have stated:

"The doctrine that the relation of a school vis a vis a pupil is analogous to one who stands in loco parentis, with the result that a school is under a special duty to exercise reasonable care to protect a pupil from harm." Segerman v. Jones, 256 Md. 109, 123-24, 259 A.2d 794, 801 (1969); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 320 at 130 (1965); 2 Harper and James, The Law of Torts § 18.7 at 1058 (1956); Annot., 86 A.L.R.2d 489, 565-68 (1962); Annot., 32 A.L.R.2d 1163, 1178-81 (1953); Annot., 160 A.L.R. 7, 155-56 (1946).

This duty was arguably breached by the severely lacking response by the school's nurse.

An attorney is recommended, of course. May I recommend the Maryland Bar referral program by county - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

The attorney should take this on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you do. Usual set up is their take is 33% settlement, 40% win at trial, 45% at appeal; plus some office costs. Everything is negotiable.

Good luck.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Ely - thank you for the great advice. A quick followup question if I may: Would the gym teacher, who was in the weight room at the time of my son's injury, also be potentially liable as well? Since he was responsible for overseeing/watching the boys during this time? Thanks again.
XXXXXX

S,

You are very welcome.

Would the gym teacher, who was in the weight room at the time of my son's injury, also be potentially liable as well? Since he was responsible for overseeing/watching the boys during this time?

This is hard to say. Possibly - also under negligence (same concepts). In such situations, the Plaintiff may sue the SCHOOL DISTRICT, and then the TEACHER and the NURSE individually as co-defendants. Then the jury (if a jury trial) or the Judge (if a bench trial) decide what percentage of the blame should go to whom, etc.

An employer (school district) is responsible for actions of their employees during employment. This is called respondeat superior.