Child Suffers Brain Damage in Fall at Fast Food Restaurant

Inna Kraner, J.D.

Written by
— Updated on January 24, 2022

safety expert witness This case involves a ten-year-old boy who was playing in the play area of a fast food hamburger restaurant. The boy was playing on the cross bars as though they were “monkey bars.” There were no safety precautions in the play area to keep children from having access to the cross bars and the floor under the cross bars did not have any padding. The restaurant did not have any specific warning signs stating that climbing on the cross bars could be dangerous. The boy fell head-first from the cross bars onto the restaurant’s floor tile. The boy suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, left frontal lobe contusion, and bilateral pulmonary contusions. His injuries affected his cognition and his intellectual and communication abilities. The boy also suffered a loss in his memory skills. Due to the severity of his injuries, the boy was required to have 24-hour lifetime care. The boy’s parents sued the restaurant for negligence in causing their son’s brain injury.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Can the parents of a child who falls in the play area of a fast food restaurant sue the restaurant for negligently maintaining the play area?

Expert Witness Response

In many fast food restaurants, there is a play area that has a structure that has outside support poles that resemble playground “fireman poles’ or “monkey bars.” It is not uncommon for children to use these poles for play. Serious accidents can occur if children play on the cross bars (support poles) of the vertical climbing structures in the play areas. In most cases where a child is injured in the play area of a fast food restaurant, the restaurant may be found liable for causing the child’s injury because the restaurant did not follow safety procedures in the maintenance of the play area. Fast food restaurants are required under Federal law to follow the standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in making sure their play areas are safe. In most cases, fast food restaurants are required to have visible safety messages in play areas that are posted in prominent, easy-to-read locations. In this case, the restaurant was probably negligent in failing to have signs posted within the play area warning of the danger of playing on the cross bars of the climbing structure. Also, since the restaurant was probably required to have adequate protective surfacing under the cross bars, the failure to have this type of flooring as a safety precaution was probably negligence.

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