Bright, sunny days—summer breaks are made for child’s play. It can be heartbreaking, though, when those joyous moments are cut short by a playground accident. Playground injuries are often severe because they usually occur when a child is in full motion. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a study in 2013 reporting that over 200,000 children are treated each year in emergency rooms all across the country for serious injuries that occur in a playground setting.
When a child is hurt in this manner, her parents may seek compensation for her injuries. However, there are some questions that must be addressed prior to filing a claim for compensation.
• Was the equipment in compliance with local laws?
The playground equipment must be in compliance with the laws of that community. For example, in New Hampshire, a company installing playground equipment would have to register with New Hampshire’s Secretary of State to conduct business there.
• Was the equipment working properly?
Was the child injured because the equipment was faulty? If so, it will need to be determined whether or not the owners of the park knew that this equipment was in disrepair, or if the flaw in the equipment is the fault of the manufacturer. If your child has been injured while playing at the playground, it may be in your best interest to seek legal representation. If you live in New England, the experience of New Hampshire attorneys Tenn & Tenn should prove invaluable.
• Had the equipment received regular maintenance?
Was the child injured on the playground by the equipment because it didn’t receive regularly scheduled maintenance checks? Anyone who operates a playground has the responsibility to keep it well maintained and safe for the children. This includes checking fasteners on equipment, looking for sharp objects, maintaining walkways and play areas, and placing appropriate signage on equipment that may be designated for a specific age group.
• Was your child’s injury caused by another child?
Was the child hurt by the actions of a playmate? This may make the parents of the other child responsible for their child’s actions. This is often a little more difficult to prove.
• Was your child old enough to play on the equipment in question?
Some playground equipment is designed for children of a specific age. For instance, a swing that is essentially a highchair with safety bars is obviously designed for toddlers. If your 10 year old child attempts to use this swing and is injured because the chain breaks under his weight, the playground owners may not be liable for these injuries.
• How risky was your child’s behavior?
The element of personal risk is always taken into consideration by the courts when evaluating a playground injury case. In addition to ascertaining whether or not the equipment was easily identifiable as unsafe or risky, the court will also question whether or not the child’s behavior was risky. If the child was a risk-taker or daredevil, it may be deemed by the court that the owners of the playground are not responsible for the injury that occurred.
Parental supervision is the best preventative measure to eliminate playground injuries. When this is not possible, however, it is incumbent upon you to assure that your child knows proper playground etiquette and how to use each piece of equipment properly.
Writer and doting god-parent, LaGeris Underwood Bell, hopes these points of consideration will arm parents with useful information when facing the personal injury of their child in a playground-related case. Supervision before the fact is best; strong legal counsel after the fact is imperative. In New Hampshire, the legal expertise of Tenn & Tenn can help relieve some of the emotional, physical, and financial pain of such a traumatic personal injury.