Children spend many hours at playgrounds in schools, public parks, and other recreational areas. Unfortunately, faulty equipment, poor maintenance of playgrounds, or a lack of appropriate supervision can cause brain injuries, broken bones, damage to internal organs, and other serious trauma to a child. Hundreds of thousands of children receive medical treatment each year after accidents on playgrounds.
Causes of Accidents on Playgrounds
Accidents often occur because playground equipment wears down over time or because defective equipment was installed. They also may occur if the company responsible for designing the playground failed to take safety into account. In other cases, the party that installed the equipment may not have used the proper care or followed instructions during installation.
Playgrounds need to be inspected regularly to make sure that they are safe and that any wear and tear is addressed. Depending on the age of the children and the type of equipment involved, children may require supervision by adults while they are using the equipment. Small children may not realize the risks posed by heights or slippery surfaces, even though these seem obvious to adults. If a parent accompanies the child, the parent may be responsible for supervising them. However, if a parent is not present, other adults likely will be responsible, such as teachers, other school employees, or day care workers.
Suing the Playground Owner
Parents of children who are injured on a playground at a school will follow different paths depending on whether the school is public or private. If it is a public school, they will need to follow the procedural requirements for suing a government entity. If it is a private school or day care, they will need to identify the entity that owns the school or day care and sue that entity for negligent maintenance or supervision.
If a playground is associated with a school, a parent or guardian may need to follow the procedures for suing a school district.
If your child was injured on a playground in an environment other than a school, such as a park, you will need to determine who was responsible for keeping it in a safe condition. This is usually a city or county in the case of a public park, while it may be a large national company in the case of a shopping center or restaurant. Similar to accidents at public schools, accidents at public parks likely involve suing a government entity and thus require attention to detail in meeting procedural requirements.
Suing an Equipment Manufacturer or Construction Company
Perhaps inadequate inspections or maintenance were not entirely responsible for your child’s injuries. The fault may lie at least in part with a manufacturer that supplied defective equipment to the playground. This may support a products liability claim if you can show that your child suffered injuries because of the defect.
Also, one or more construction companies may have been responsible for designing the playground, selecting the equipment needed, and assembling it properly. You can sue this type of entity if you believe that errors in the design or construction of the playground caused an unreasonable risk that resulted in the accident. Reviewing state laws on playground safety, as well as the standards of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), can help you determine where an error may have occurred and who may bear responsibility for it.