Largest Reported NJ Personal Injury Settlement during the Court’s 2022-2023 term

Child Injured in Slip and Fall in School — $650,000 Settlement

In an elementary school in Demarest, New Jersey, an eight-year-old boy slipped and fell after exiting a bathroom stall. After Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. partner Steven Benvenisti demonstrated that the school had been negligent in failing to maintain a safe environment for students, the boy and his family were awarded a $650,000 settlement.

The little boy was exiting a bathroom stall and was about to wash his hands when he slipped on water that had accumulated under the sinks. He injured the back of his head and suffered a traumatic brain injury with permanent cognitive disfunction. Following the accident, he temporarily lost his ability to walk, suffered from vertigo and migraines, and required physical, vision, cognitive, occupational, and vestibular therapies. He was home-schooled through the remainder of third grade, and required an aide when he returned to school in fourth grade.

Before his accident, our client was a very active child. He played soccer, lacrosse, baseball, and golf, but after the accident, he had to relearn how to walk and run; even then, he was still not cleared to play sports lest he reinjured his head. Moreover, because his cognitive functioning deteriorated, his schooling was affected and he struggled to keep up with his classmates, particularly in math. He required tutors and special accommodations to complete his high school education.

Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. partner Steven Benvenisti retained an engineering expert to ascertain the cause of our client’s accident. Through her investigation, the expert found that the accident could have been avoided had the school properly maintained the floor and the plumbing to ensure that no water leakages occurred. The expert found that the floor was corroded, suggesting that leakages occurred consistently and had not been treated. Moreover, she found that the school had not taken appropriate measures to mitigate the hazardous conditions, such as by laying down mats or placing “Wet Floor” signs. As such, she determined that the school had been negligent in failing to maintain safe conditions for young children, and their negligence had directly caused the little boy’s fall.

Public entities such as schools are protected from tort claims by the Tort Claims Act. However, a skilled personal injury lawyer is knowledgeable about exceptions to the Tort Claims Act; for instance, the Act requires that a claim against a public entity be submitted within 90 days of the accident, but a skilled lawyer will be able to prove that there were “extraordinary circumstances” that justify allowing the claim to be submitted within a year of the accident.

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Medical Terms

Traumatic brain injury: A head injury caused by an external force, that will lead to long-term complications.

Vertigo: The feeling of spinning even when an individual is being still.

Migraine: A throbbing head pain accompanied with nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.

Vestibular therapy: A subtype of physical therapy, used to mitigate issues like vertigo and dizziness.