Recess is a highlight of the school day for most kids, but it can also be the most dangerous. Injuries that occur on a swing, climber or slide can be as, if not more, severe than a bike or auto accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 45 percent of playground accidents cause severe injuries: think fractures, concussions, and internal injuries, among others. About 75 percent of injuries occur on public playgrounds, the CDC noted. Children are also especially vulnerable to emotional injuries.
There are many causes of playground injuries; therefore, a number of parties could be found liable. In Oakland, heavily used, undermaintained playgrounds could contain old, possibly deteriorated equipment, with rusted metal, rotting wood or sharp edges. A playground may or may not include a soft falling surface. Astro Park’s playground, for example, sits on a floor of springy rubber, which helps soften the blow if a child falls.
Public entities such as cities, counties, and school districts own most local playgrounds. If a child is injured at one of these parks, a parent or guardian must file a claim against the public entity within six months of the occurrence. Even if the injured party is an adult, the six-month time frame applies.
If negligent equipment design caused the injury, the playground manufacturer could be named in a lawsuit. If a daycare or school failed to maintain the equipment, then that business, school or school district could be named. An experienced personal injury lawyer can research whether others have been injured in the same way on the same equipment, which would provide further evidence of a defect or poor maintenance.
Lack of supervision could also contribute to an accident. An adult should be nearby to watch for rough play and risky behavior such as fast running or a triumphant victory pose on top of the climbing igloo. If inadequate supervision plays a role, the supervising adult and his or her employer could be found at fault.
If the injury stems from bullying or a playground fight, then the injured party could sue the parents of the instigator, along with the school or school district for negligent supervision. If the parents of the bully have homeowner’s insurance, that coverage may apply. If your child gets injured on the playground, be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer for a consultation.