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By Ray Kahler

More than 200,000 children go to the emergency room for playground-related injuries every year, according to a study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Tragically, 147 children died from playground-related injuries between 1990 and 2000. Playground safety has been studied extensively for over 30 years, and during that time our attorneys have become familiar with the legal rules and liability around playground safety. Needless to say, no parent wants to have to file a personal injury claim on behalf of their child, but if you do, our attorneys are here to help.

IF A CHILD IS HURT AT SCHOOL, WHO PAYS?

If your child requires medical treatment for injuries sustained from playground equipment, the bills can add up fast, especially for families who are uninsured or underinsured. Of course, there are cases when a child’s personal injury is nobody’s fault. But if you suspect the accident was preventable, or that defective products, premises liability, or negligence were involved, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

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When a child is injured on a playground at school or elsewhere, the liable parties in a personal injury lawsuit could include the owner of the playground (including the school district and local government), the manufacturer, the contractor, and the people tasked with supervising the children.

Liability for playground and play equipment injuries can involve complicated legal issues. Legal rules vary for public and private play areas. For defective products, manufacturers of playground equipment are subject to legal rules for product liability. If your child has been injured as a result of a defective product or unsafe playground design or playground equipment, please contact us for a free consultation.

PLAYGROUND SAFETY STANDARDS

Playground injuries often happen at public parks, schools, daycare facilities, fast food restaurants, shopping malls, and backyards. Injuries could happen due to (but not limited to) any of the following factors:

            Height: Most injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment onto the ground. Elevated surfaces and platforms should have guardrails to prevent falls.

            Surfaces: Some surfaces, like mulch and rubber, are safer than others, like concrete. Safe surfaces around playground equipment help prevent fractures and other injuries if children fall.

            Spacing: Proper spacing and layout of different types of playground equipment help prevent injuries from children coming into conflict while playing, such as running in front of other children on swings.

            Supervision: Depending on the situation and age of the children, a supervisor such as a teacher or nanny might be required to prevent accidents.

            Hardware, sharp edges, entanglement: Playground equipment standards help prevent cuts, strangulation, and other injuries while children are using play equipment. Tripping hazards like exposed roots should be removed.

            Fencing: Fencing standards help prevent children from running from a play area into a hazard such as a nearby street, railroad track, or body of water.  

See also: Defective products

PLAYGROUND SAFETY RESOURCES

Several resources are available to evaluate the safety of playground design and play equipment, including:

            The CPSC’s Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook

            The CPSC’s Public Playground Safety Handbook

            Numerous ASTM International standards relating to home playground equipment, fencing around play areas, and the safety of surfaces around playground equipment.

Inspection checklists are available for use in conducting playground safety audits, including the “Playground Checklist” in Developmental Benefits of Playgrounds by Joe Frost (2004) and the “Playground Safety Compliance Audit Form” published by the International Playground Safety Institute, a compilation of guidelines from the CPSC, ASTM, ADA, and expert opinions on playground safety. Most of these resources are available to parents and playground planners for free or at a very low cost.

SETTLEMENTS FOR PLAYGROUND INJURIES

            Baby Doe vs. Shopping Center: Confidential settlement for the wrongful death of a toddler at an outdoor shopping center with a play area adjacent to an intersection where the child ran from the unguarded equipment into the roadway

CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

If your child has been injured as a result of unsafe playground design or playground equipment, please contact us for a free consultation.

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