The risk of accidents in playgrounds is well known to most schools and municipalities in the United States, and efforts are made to make them safe by such practices as using plastic rather than metal., avoiding protruding objects, using rubberized padding or thick mulch to soften falls, placing warning signs on playground equipment so that parents know the equipment is suited for children of a specified age. Swings are made with plastic seats rather than wood or metal. Seesaws are either avoided or use some type of padding to avoid spinal injuries when one child jumps off while the other child hits the ground.
Touring playgrounds in other countries illustrates the advances in American playgrounds. Unguarded seesaws are still used, swings sets use wooden seats and the ground is hard dirt or rock strewn so that injuries are more likely to occur. Because the legal system in those countries is not as strong as ours, these conditions are allowed to exist.
Even with our advanced knowledge, there are still dangers in playgrounds. Recently New York City was forced to immobilize spinning disk equipment which resulted in injuries when children were thrown from the equipment. Padding and mulch can be worn away so that there is no longer the needed protection. Equipment may be broken so that the it becomes more dangerous.
Generally playgrounds are owned by schools and municipalities, so that special Notice of Claim issues arise. A Notice must be filed with the school or municipality within 90 days of the date of the accident, or the case will be dismissed.
School playgrounds present different issues. Children are sent out for recess while being supervised by teachers or playground monitors. The number of children using any piece of equipment may be too large, and the teacher or monitor may be charged with a duty to control the number of students using the equipment. If unsafe horseplay is observed in sufficient time to avoid an accident, the school may be liable. Schools are not liable, however, if the accident occurs suddenly so that the teacher or monitor cannot be expected to intervene in time.
If you or your child have been injured on a playground, contact Norman M. Block, P.C. We will assess your case and file the necessary Notice of Claim. We will bring suit on behalf of you and your child and assist you through the process. We will find the necessary experts who will be able to demonstrate why the playground was unsafe. Each situation is different, so call us immediately to discuss your case.