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A 3-year old boy from Longview died Saturday after two adults fell on him at the Hoppin’ Houses indoor playground in Castle Rock, Washington. The boy, named Jacob, was at a birthday party for a relative and was playing in the area that features inflatable slides and obstacle courses. The details of the accident remain unclear but it is known that two bouncing adults landed on top of the boy and they all fell to the concrete floor. Jacob died of head injuries.

There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened–how the playground was set up, what if any rules were followed, the kind of activities that were going on, etc. But one thing’s for sure: an accident like this deserves to be investigated and Jacob’s family should consider whether they want to bring a legal claim.

No amount of money from anyone, for any reason, will ever make up for his loss. But money damages is one important way that we hold persons and companies responsible when they are liable for negligence under our civil legal system. By hitting negligent parties in their pockets, personal injury plaintiffs are compensated for their injuries and, we hope, negligent conduct is discouraged because otherwise a steep price will be paid.

Do you think the playground is legally or morally responsible for what happened? What could it have done to avoid the accident? What about the men who were playing the game near the child? What would you want to know if this were a court case and you were sitting on the jury? Assuming there was negligence, how much money, if any, would you award?

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Premises Liability.

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