A well-liked teacher and track and field coach at Rio Linda High School near Sacramento, California died in a freak accident. Who is responsible for his death?
Marion Adams was riding his bicycle after track practice Tuesday morning when he looked over his shoulder to say goodbye to a student, as reported in the Sacramento Bee.
As he turned, the coach failed to see a partially open metal swing gate in the school parking lot, and was impaled by the gate arm.
The 59-year-old coach was taken to a local hospital where he underwent several surgeries. The accident caused Adams’ stomach injury that later led to his death.
In Adams’ case, his relatives could explore ways to sue the high school over his death. A school or any property owner may be liable for dangerous conditions on their property, in some situations.
Dangerous conditions can include slippery floors, buildings that are not built to code, exposed electrical wires, and even protrusions that unnecessarily create a risk of harm like an open metal swing gate.
In order to prove premises liability, the plaintiff will typically have to show that the property owner owed a duty of care to the victim, failed to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the property, and that this hazardous condition caused a foreseeable accident.
In Marion Adams’ case, proving the school’s liability may be difficult. It is unclear if the metal swing gate could be considered a hazardous condition, and it may be hard to prove that a death by impalement would be a foreseeable result of the gate being left open. Furthermore, Adams’ looking over his shoulder to say goodbye to a student may have contributed to the tragic accident.
Sometimes accidents are just accidents and don’t warrant legal liability. Unfortunately, that may be the case in the freak accident that killed the popular high school coach. But, should Adams’ family choose to bring legal action, there is also a possibility that the court will find that the school was liable.
That is the beauty/downfall of taking cases to trial: there is never any certainty. Often times, it’s a crapshoot.
What do you think about this story? Should Adams’ family take legal action? Do you think Adams contributed to his death in turning around to say goodbye while on his bicycle?
Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).