Children frequently suffer injuries on playgrounds. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger require medical treatment for playground injuries. About 45 percent are serious injuries, including bone dislocations and fractures, internal injuries, strangulations, and eye and head trauma. The rest are soft tissue injuries including muscle sprains, bruising, minor cuts, and swelling.
Legal Options After a Playground Accident
If a party’s negligence led to a playground accident and injury, a personal injury or wrongful death claim may be pursued. It will be crucial to work with a law firm that fully understands the issues that can arise in these cases.
For instance, a child injury claim may involve seeking separate damages for the child and parent, including medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages. A guardian ad litem may need to be appointed. Additionally, any settlement negotiated with the at-fault party or parties may need judicial approval and judicial supervision of the child’s funds.
In a playground injury case, a defendant may be a school district or a city, county or state agency that operated the playground. If so, this requires the filing of ante litem notice with that agency within a specific time period. Such ante-litem time periods for notification may be short and may require action before the normal time for a statute of limitations.
Why Do Playground Injuries Occur?
Playground injuries can occur in many different situations. They may happen while a child is at school, in day care, visiting a friend’s home or attending a birthday party. The possibilities are endless. According to the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), more than half of playground injuries (51 percent) happen on public playgrounds.
According to data collected by the NPPS, these accidents tend to involve:
- Falls or equipment failure – 67%
- Hazards around but not related to equipment – 8%
- Collisions with other children – 7%
- Entrapments – 7%
The NPPS states that 15 percent of these playground injuries are “severe,” while 3 percent require hospitalization. The CDC reports that the most common non-fatal injuries are broken bones, internal damage, concussions, amputations and dislocations.
In many instances, these injuries may result from:
Inadequate supervision – A teacher or caregiver at a child care facility may fail to keep reasonable watch over children at play. For example, a young child may be allowed to use a swing or slide that should only be used by older children.
Negligent maintenance – The school, day care center, recreation department or private homeowner may invite children to use equipment that has been poorly maintained. For instance, the equipment may have rust, splinters or exposed nails. Chains and supports may also be broken or worn.
Defective design or manufacture – A manufacturer may be responsible for allowing unsafe equipment to be sold and used. A playground set could be constructed from wood that easily rots, for instance, or it could feature dangerously sharp corners.
It is important to thoroughly investigate a playground-related injury in order to determine why it occurred and who might be held responsible for the harm that has been suffered by you and your child.
If you are dealing with a child’s injury in Milwaukee or the state of Wisconsin due to a playground accident, contact Jacobson, Schrinsky & Houck today at: 414-223-4444 or online at: www.jsh-law.com/contact-us
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