Playground Injuries – Who Is Responsible?

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP Nov. 14, 2014

Children and playgrounds go together, much like peanut butter and jelly; however, injuries do happen at these play locations. When a child’s injury is more than a simple scrape on the elbow, it may be necessary to seek the advice of qualified and experienced accident lawyers. Doing so can protect the injured child and his or her parents as well as ultimately help prevent similar incidents with other children.

Common Playground Injuries

Childhood seems to include bumps, bruises and scrapes; many of which happen during playground activities. The services of accident lawyers may be required if more serious traumas are encountered at the playground such as concussions or head injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, and dislocations. Between 2001 and 2008, nearly 220,000 playground injuries have been documented in the United States.1 Fifteen percent of the injuries were considered serious, including 40 deaths.

Children customarily do not perceive the risks associated with their actions nor the potential for injury to themselves or others and accidents do unfortunately happen. Children get hurt at playgrounds in many different ways – not all of which happen at public playgrounds according to lawyers who handle accident claims. A substantial percentage of playground-related deaths actually occur on home play equipment.2 Most non-fatal injuries happen on public and school playground areas.

Causes of Playground Injuries

Accident lawyers suggest that most injuries occurring at playgrounds result from lack of supervision and poor playground equipment maintenance.

  • Lack of Adult Supervision – Most children are nearly fearless. As such, adults must prevent injuries from happening. Proper adult supervision is essential. Inadequate supervision can result in playground injuries and, according to accident lawyers, the non-parent adult in charge may be liable.

  • Playground Maintenance – Owners of playground equipment can be responsible for injuries caused by broken equipment, protruding nails or bolts, equipment failure, poor design, lack of proper play surfaces, and more, according to qualified accident lawyers. The owner is obligated to perform regular equipment inspections and repair or replace broken equipment as necessary.

Responsibility for Playground Injuries

When negligence of others, including poorly maintained equipment or inadequate supervision cause an injury, experienced accident lawyers should be consulted to identify the responsible party by considering the following important aspects:

  • Playground Ownership – Finding out who owns playground equipment is essential in determining who may be liable for a playground injury Public playgrounds at local parks or other public facilities are usually owned by the city or municipality where the park is located. State parks are owned by the state, while National Parks are federally owned. Public school districts also own local playgrounds as do private schools. Sometimes playgrounds are owned by homeowner’s associations, churches, restaurants, or private businesses which can be liable for injuries which occur on their playground and/or its equipment.

  • Design and Construction – Accident lawyers look beyond ownership to those who designed the playground and its equipment as well as those who constructed or assembled the equipment in addition to examining whether these entities were qualified to perform such work and used sound building practices.

It is indeed sometimes difficult to determine who is responsible for playground injuries. Many factors are involved, including how and where the accident occurred, who owns the premises and equipment, how the playground was constructed, and other relevant factors. It is highly recommended to work with experienced accident lawyers if you have a child who was injured on playground equipment.

1National Program For Playground Safety (NPPS)

2Safe Kids Worldwide – Playground Facts