Child injured by automatic gate at apartment complex

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Case:  Child injured on the automatic gate at an apartment complex. 

(An apartment complex had left guard off of the chain mechanism that opened and shut their automated gate. This caused severe injuries to our client’s child. The apartment denied that they knew about the condition. Neighbors living at the complex and repair orders both confirmed that the apartment in fact did know about the condition for weeks yet had not fixed it yet).

Our client’s child (7 years old) had been playing with other children outside at the apartment complex where they lived.  There was an automatic gate that allowed vehicles in and out of the complex.  One of the children she was playing with knew how to push a button on the box where the chain was located that would open the gate.  The children were riding on the gate as it opened and shut.  One child would push the button to activate the gate and the kids would stand on the bottom rail of the gate as it opened and ride on it as it opened and shut.  The safety guard had been removed from the chain mechanism by someone who had done maintenance on the gate and was not placed back on.  The 7-year old’s foot was caught in the chain and went into the machinery crushing her foot – requiring skin grafts and several surgeries to repair her foot.  The apartment complex denied knowing that the safety mechanism had been removed and denied responsibility, saying they had no notice of the dangerous condition prior to the injury occurring.

An investigation by our office revealed that at least two neighbors who lived next to the gate had noticed the safety box had been removed and that it had been uncovered for several weeks. The apartment complex had been notified at least two times by these neighbors prior to the injury that the safety box cover was not in place. A lawsuit was filed and during discovery, documents revealed that the apartment complex had listed this as a problem to fix for several weeks but had done nothing to repair it. Faced with proof that the apartment complex had not only caused the dangerous condition by removing the safety cover and also the proof that they had been notified by their own tenants of the dangerous condition that they had failed to repair, the management company for the apartment complex settled the case in the mid-six-figure range.