Pupil injured in school forced to repay £21,000 compensation payment

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Sam Hammersley-Gonsalves, aged 11 at the time of his accident at Guisborough’s Lawrence Jackson School, was awarded damages totalling £21,000 after being hit in the face with a golf club during a PE lesson in 2007.

The poor lad had his teeth smashed and jaw broken during the golf lesson and spent a week in Hospital as a result.  The youngster, now 16, was hit in the face by a fellow pupil during the lesson in October 2007.

His family used a Personal Injury Solicitor to successfully sue Redcar and Cleveland Council.  The claim was successful in arguing that the boy’s teacher had failed to properly supervise the class.  The damages award was made at a hearing held in Middlesbrough County Court in November last year.  The judges in that hearing had ruled that the boys the teacher in charge had been negligent in failing to keep every pupil in the class of 22 “in his line of sight” at all times.

However, Redcar and Cleveland Council appealed and the court judges opted to overturn the decision after the Council’s legal team argued that the decision had placed “an unrealistic burden” on schools and teachers.

The Appeal Court hearing in London in the presence of Lord Justice Pill, sitting with Lord Justice Rimer and Lady Justice Black, agreed that teachers “cannot be expected to see every action of every pupil” in their care.

The parents of the boy now plan to take the case to the European Court, claiming they need £35,000 to cover medical and dental bills alone.  The boys Father was quoted as saying that “This is all purely to cover the costs of the work that he needs to repair his teeth.  “He will lose six teeth, four of which are already dead and need replacing, but he can’t have that done until he is 18. A further two are almost dead and also have to be replaced.”

To date, the boy has had dental work covered by the NHS because of his age. But he is unable to have dental implants to replace his severely damaged teeth until he is 18, when he will then have to pay costs.  Anyone who has ever had to pay dental costs will be aware just how expensive such re-constructive work can be.

Welcoming the ruling, Redcar and Cleveland Council said it showed that sport was encouraged in schools, but that “accidents will happen”.

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