Playgrounds should be a place for children to have fun, but they can also be a place where accidents and injuries occur. It’s estimated that approximately 20,000 children go to the emergency room every year due to suffering from injuries and accidents that took place on a playground. Many of these injuries take place in play areas that are located in day care facilities and schools which are areas where we assume would be safe.
When playing, children often climb, slide, swing, jump, and run, and it’s these activities that can prove to be harmful should they slip or fall. Some of the most common playground injuries are:
- Head injuries (including concussion)
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Dislocated bones
How Injuries are Caused
There may be many reasons as to why children suffer injuries in the playground, however, there are some reasons that appear to be a lot more common than some others.
– Poorly Designed Equipment
Playgrounds should be designed properly, ensuring that the risk to children is minimized. There is always a risk that a child will fall in the playground, but this risk could be minimized by using a soft surface that will reduce the likelihood of injuries should a child fall on it.
– Poorly Maintained Equipment
Playgrounds could be very old, some may be more than 10 years old and they may have started to deteriorate. Wood may have started to rot, metal components may have started to rust, while bolts and screws may have begun to work their way loose, making the playground equipment a lot less safe than it should be.
Most playgrounds get quite busy after school, during the summer, and at weekends. This almost constant use results in wear and tear, making surfaces slippery, wearing down walkways, and exposing bolts and screws that were previously out of harm’s way. This is why it’s so important that playground equipment is properly maintained.
– Insufficient Supervision
Children should be supervised whenever they are playing, particularly young children who may not be very steady on their feet. Supervision is also vital if you want to prevent injuries especially as some children may fail to understand the risk associated with climbing, swinging, running, and many other aspects of playing. This is why it’s essential that children are adequately supervised at all times.
While some people are more than happy to have just one adult supervise their play, there may be times when more than one adult is needed. If young children are at play there should be more than one adult supervising them as there is always the potential for accidents to occur.
Where Liability Lies
If your child has been injured on a playground it may not always be clear who could be held liable for the injuries.
The owner of the playground may be responsible for the maintenance the playground is located in a public park. In cases such as these, the local municipality could be responsible. However, if the playground is located in a national park the federal government could be responsible. If the playground is located in a school then the public school district may be responsible as the playground is usually maintained and owned by them.
– If the playground is owned by a church, day care facility or private school
If the playground is owned by a church, day care facility or private school, or any non-profit entity, they may be responsible for the construction, design, or maintenance of it.
– If the playground is owned by a franchise or a restaurant chain
If the playground is owned by a franchise or a restaurant chain more often than not they will own the playground, which means they could be held liable for any accidents that occur.
Who Designed the Playground?
Playgrounds are very rarely designed by the company or entity that owns the location where the playground sits. A design company may be hired to work on the design, and its construction may involve using a local company who may themselves hire contractors to provide the materials and other components so the play area can be built. In cases such as these, the design company and their contractors may be found liable.
If your child has been injured whilst playing on a playground, the owner, designer, and the company who constructed the playground may be liable if the injury was caused by a construction or design defect.
In many parts of America, there are state laws that ensure minimum safety standards are adhered to when it is being designed and constructed. There are also safety standards set out by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to help ensure that playgrounds are manufactured and designed safely, helping to reduce the likelihood of accidents.
If your child has been injured in a playground accident and you think the owner or designer of the playground may be to blame, please speak to a lawyer as soon as you can.
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