Mum's £45k pay out after being hit in head by school sign

A MOTHER has won more than £45,000 in damages after she was hit on the head by a playground sign which blew off a wall in high winds.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 10:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 1:23 pm
The incident occurred in 2013 outside South Morningside Primary School. Picture: TSPL

The woman was taking her seven-year-old daughter to South Morningside Primary School when she was knocked out cold by the large two metre sign.

She was rushed to hospital by ambulance after suffering a deep cut to her forehead which required stitches and tissue damage to her left shoulder.

She spent two days in hospital and experienced dizziness and speech problems and was later diagnosed as having suffered a mild brain injury.

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The incident happened in December 2013 as she was dropping her daughter off in the playground.

The woman, a 43-year-old mature student who has not been identified, sued education bosses from Edinburgh City Council at the city’s sheriff court.

The sign, which was erected in 2003, was made of plastic and had an aluminium frame. It was fixed to a plywood board which was on a wall at the entrance to the school.

The woman told the court she had noticed it flapping in the wind before it blew off on the morning of the incident.

The court also heard she has now been left with a 3cm scar on her face and is to undergo psychological counselling.

She has now been awarded a total of £45,752 in damages after Sheriff Kathrine Mackie ruled the council were at fault for the accident as staff had failed to ensure the sign was securely fixed to the wall.

In a written ruling, she said: “It is accepted by the defenders that, at least at the time of the accident, there being no evidence of any report of any weakness of the sign being observed other than on the day of the accident, the sign was not securely fixed to the board and became detached in the wind, blew off and struck the pursuer to her injury.

“A sign that is properly and securely fixed ought not to become detached, blow off and cause injury. While the weather on the morning of the accident was a matter of agreement there was no evidence that the force of the wind that morning was sufficient by itself to detach a sign if securely affixed.

“It would seem from the evidence of the condition of the screws and the board that, on balance of probabilities, the pull resistance of the board was reduced due to its deterioration from water damage, the length of the screws did not provide sufficient embedment, were rusted and deteriorated and were incapable of withstanding sufficient load and wind suction.”

She added: “In my opinion it was, or ought to have been, reasonably foreseeable that the fixings of a sign attached to an external wall would deteriorate over time leading to the likelihood that the sign would become unsafe.

“In not assessing the risk of such an event or implementing a regime of inspection which included the sign the defenders failed to take reasonable care for the safety of visitors to the school.

“The defects in the fixings were readily identified when inspected after the accident.

“On balance of probabilities if the defenders had inspected the sign fixings at any time prior to the accident, the defects would have been noted and the sign removed or secured. Had that been done the accident would not have occurred.”

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “We note the judgement and are considering our response. While we are unable to discuss the details of the particular case, any injury to anyone on Council premises is very much regretted and is always taken very seriously.”

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