Playgrounds are supposed to be safe places where children have fun. Unfortunately, over 200,000 children age 14 and under are injured on playgrounds annually. Of those, roughly 45 percent sustain serious injuries. Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention show that from 1990 through 2000, 147 children in this same age bracket died from injuries sustained on playgrounds.
Children at the highest risk for injuries are those between 5 and 9, with girls experiencing a slightly higher number of injuries than boys. The fact is that kids will be kids. Although most only get bumps and bruises, some are seriously injured on playgrounds due to faulty equipment.
Private entities and municipalities are responsible for maintaining playgrounds and associated equipment located on their properties. Over time, the wind, rain, ice, snow, and the hot sun causes damage. Wood playground equipment splinters and cracks, metal equipment corrodes, and even components protrude, posing a risk of injury.
Property owners must remove, repair, or replace any damaged playground equipment. If they do not and a child is injured, they have violated “duty of care,” otherwise known as negligence. In this case, property owners are liable for the child’s damages, including medical and/or dental bills and any out-of-pocket expenses, along with pain and suffering. Lost wages would be paid to the person providing care to the child while he or she is at home recovering.
To win a lawsuit or get fair monetary compensation from the property owner’s insurance company, the child’s parents or legal guardians need to hire the best personal injury attorney possible. From there, other actions are taken.
- Photos and Videos – Someone investigating on behalf of the attorney will go to the playground to capture date-stamped photos and videos of the equipment, such as rotted or cracked wood, broken swing chains, corroded metal poles, and protruding objects.
- Witness Statements – Anyone who witnessed the incident or cared for the child until first responders arrived would provide statements.
- First Responder and Police Reports – Reports generated by first responders and the police would be collected. In addition to stating the type of injury, these reports would likely include statements regarding any damaged or dangerous equipment, as well as unsafe conditions noticed.
- Medical Reports and Bills – All medical and/or dental bills along with reports that show the child’s diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, would be gathered.
For a minor injury, the property owner would either pay the medical and/or dental bill or file a claim with his or her insurance company. The adjuster would then contact the child’s parents or legal guardians to settle the claim. If the injury is serious, the adjuster will try to settle quickly for an unacceptable amount. This is why contacting an attorney before signing or agreeing to anything with an insurance company is so important. After all, the child could face years, if not a lifetime, of physical, mental, or emotional repercussions.
When a child sustains serious injuries on a playground due to faulty equipment, hiring a reputable attorney is imperative. With experience and expertise, the attorney will investigate, take depositions, subpoena records, and more to ensure that the child gets what is deserved.