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The Danger of Playground Injuries

By Jason Bottlinger on August 22, 2018

Looking on as your child flies from a swing and hits his head, or falls from monkey bars and breaks her arm, is a frightening moment no parent will ever forget. There is nothing worse for parents than witnessing their children get hurt when they are supposed to be playing around and having fun.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States “emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for a traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion.”

Experts are still trying to figure out what activities are putting kids at risk most, and what type of playground surfaces and equipment would be most conductive to child safety.

The CDC’s compiled research also shows that:

  • 45% of playground injuries are severe—fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations.
  • 75% of nonfatal injuries occur on public playgrounds, with most occurring at schools and daycare centers.
  • Between 1990 and 2000, 147 children ages 14 and younger died from playground-related injuries. Of those, 56% died from strangulation and 20% from falls. 70% of these deaths occurred on home playgrounds.
  • Between 2001 and 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated 40 deaths associated with playground equipment. Of those, 68% died from strangulation and 15% from falls. Most strangulation involved the combination of slides or swings and jump ropes, other ropes, dog leashes, or clothes drawstrings. The average age of children who died was 6 years old.

It’s also important to point out that on public playgrounds, most injuries occurred from using climbers, and on home playgrounds, most injuries happened while using a swing.

What Can I Do As A Parent?

You can take a few steps to keep your child safer on the playground:

  • Check that the playground has an appropriate soft cushioning like sand, wood chips, or mulch.
  • Check that there are guardrails, and that they are in working order and will be able to assist in preventing a fall.
  • Read the playground signs and make sure the equipment your children are using is suitable for their age.
  • Look out for dangers such as rocks, tree stumps, and trash that can trip your child or be a safety hazard if your child does fall.

Who Is Liable for My Child Getting Injured?

When your child gets hurt, your first response is fear. Sometimes, it is followed by anger, especially if the injury could have been prevented. You might be wondering who is liable for your child’s injury. It all depends on what caused it. Was it faulty equipment, lack of upkeep of the playground, or a lack of adult supervision?

If the injury was caused by defective equipment, the city or company whose job it was to keep the equipment in good working order may be liable. This is known as “premises liability.” In order to prove premises liability, you must show that the defendant is responsible for the upkeep of the property, that your child was allowed to be there, that the defendant was negligent in their care of the property, and that the negligence was the direct cause of the injury.

What Happens If My Child Gets Hurt at School or at McDonald’s?

A school or McDonald’s playground injury would also fall under premises liability. The company or management may be held accountable if the injury could have been prevented with proper care of the facility. However, this would not be the case if the injury was caused by another child accidentally knocking your child down.

What If My Child Was Hurt Due to Lack of Supervision?

A lot of playground injury cases boil down to kids not being properly supervised. When you entrust your child to a teacher, a babysitter, or a football coach, you expect that person to act just as carefully as you, the parent, would. This is a reasonable expectation. They are agreeing to make sure that your children are kept safe from obvious dangers.

To hold an adult watching your child liable, your child’s injury must be the result of something that could have been prevented with supervision. So if a teacher witnesses your child improperly using playground equipment, but does not correct it, and your child sustains an injury, the teacher may be held liable.

At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we’re parents ourselves, and we take the safety of children very seriously. No child should ever be injured due to faulty equipment or the negligence of a caretaker. If your child was hurt in a playground accident, please contact us at (402) 505-8234 to figure out if you have a case. Your consultation with our Omaha child injury lawyer is free.

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