No one sends their children off to school expecting problems, but as a parent... you need to know... you should have adequate insurance to protect them and you... if something happens. The Lincolns learned that... The hard way.
Kristin Lincoln says she was horrified. "A parent can't imagine it until you're in that position. It just... It was unimagineable."
Lincoln attended her daughter's field day last May at Peyton Elementary School... along with her youngest child, 2 year old Quenten. He was thrilled about jumping in the school's inflatable bouncer until a gust of wind reportedly picked up the bouncer and Quenten... 15 feet off the ground and dropped them above the pavement.
Kristin says, "He was face down on the asphalt and he wasn't moving. An ambulance was called after we called his pediatrician. She said we needed to get to the hospital by ambulance immediately."
After a battery of tests... Kristin was told her son suffered a concussion, numerous bumps and abrasions... as well as mental and emotional trauma. Now 9 months later, he has no problem talking about the incident.
Quenten says, "Bumped my head."
Quenten appears to be fine, but the Lincolns learned they didn't have adequate insurance to cover the 66-hundred dollars worth of bills. They say... they were told the district did.
Betty asks, "So the principal said what to who?" Father, Russ Lincoln says, "That they have insurance for those sorts of things that it shouldn't be any problem."
But a check with Peyton's insurer... The Colorado School District Self Insurance Pool... shows air inflated amusement rides and devices are considred high risk activities that aren't covered under their policy.
Attorney and state representative Bob Gardner says, "I think the school administrator and the school board ought to be asking themselves... if it's something that won't be covered... is it wise to have them on your grounds and on your premises... because again... liability insurers are making the judgement that they are a high risk item."
In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says, it's considering a move to beef up standards for inflatable devices... since statistics show... the number of accidents involving inflatable slides and bouncers have increased dramatically in four years' time... going from 2,000 emergency room visits in 2000... to close to 5,000 in 2004.
As for the Lincolns' financial situation... they may be on their own.
They'e learned Colorado public entities, like school districts have very broad immunity from liability. Not only must you file an action within 180 days, but you have to prove negligence.
It's all part of The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.
Gardner says, "The Governmental Immunity Act may make the city, the county, or the school district immune. And if they are... they're not going to voluntarily pay the judgement because there's been a public policy judgement made not to do so."
The superintendent of Peyton 23JT was advised by his attorney not to dicuss this matter. But he says the school will no longer use the inflatable bouncer unless it has insurance coverage for it.
I also learned... most districts send forms home to parents at the beginning of each school year... telling them about student accident insurance. Inexpensive policies are available that cover families in case students are injured on school property. Some even pick up deductible and out of pocket expenses. I'm told such a plan would've protected the Lincolns. Simply put: It offers peace of mind.