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Playgrounds are an important part of childhood, but they can also be a source of devastating child injuries. If your child or ward was injured in a playground accident, contact the playground injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Haytham Faraj for help.

Playgrounds, parks, and recreation centers are an important part of childhood. They enable our children make friends, engage in healthy activities, and develop the social skills they require to become accomplished young adults. Sadly, as a disproportionate number of parents find out, playgrounds can also be a source of devastating child injuries. 

For various reasons, ranging from negligent supervision to poorly-maintained equipment, children may be exposed to severe injuries while on the playground. While parents expect that their kids will be safe and in good hands after dropping them off at age-appropriate playgrounds, it often comes as a nasty surprise when an injury occurs. 

Under Chicago laws, authorities in charge of playgrounds have a duty to ensure their facilities are safe, and provide a conducive atmosphere for kids. Where there are any provisions that should be made by parents for supervision or child care while on the playground, they have a duty to make this clear. Where authorities fail in their duties to parents, and the children they are expected to protect, they can be held liable. 

If your child or ward was injured in a playground accident that occurred due to someone’s negligence or recklessness, you may have a right to compensation. Contact The Law Offices of Haytham Faraj to speak with an experienced playground injury attorney. Our services include a free case evaluation to help you learn about the law regarding your case and your options for compensation. 

Playground Injuries Can Be Disastrous

Although most parents do not expect this, playground injuries happen a lot – far too often for comfort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 200,000 children aged 14 and younger are rushed to emergency rooms for playground-related injuries yearly. While this data was collated in 2001, it represents the magnitude of the danger that playgrounds represent. 

Almost half of these injuries are severe, and typically include fractures, concussions, amputations, internal injuries, and dislocations. Unsurprisingly, these injuries lead to significant cost implications, including financial losses arising due to high medical bills, lost productivity hours for parents, and out-of-pocket expenses. According to data quoted by the CDC, these expenses can reach as high as $1.2 billion. 

Unfortunately, some of these injuries result in the death of children. In the decade between 1990 and 2000, 147 deaths occurred due to playground-related injuries, with the majority of deaths resulting from strangulation and falls to the playground surface. 

Recent data continues to indicate the high degree of risk to children of varying ages on the playground. A 2017 report by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) conducted under contract with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that safety hazards continue to exist on US playgrounds. They found that 64% of public playgrounds were lacking any form of safety sign addressing safety concerns or identifying age-appropriate equipment. 

In addition, it was found that several playgrounds displayed evidence of rusting, rotting, or worn equipment; broken or missing components; and foreign safety hazards, all of which contribute to a high risk of injury on playgrounds. 

Causes of Playground Injuries

Although faulty equipment and lack of supervision often play a significant part in most playground injury events, there are multiple factors that may lead to these injuries. Some of the most responsible causes include: 

  • Slips, trips, and falls: Playgrounds are hubs of vigorous activity. But while all the fun is going on, it can be easy to miss simple, but deadly hazards, such as spilled water, out-of-place equipment, or debris – all of which can lead to slips, trips, and falls. For instance, the NPPS study found that 17% of playgrounds had foreign safety hazards, such as ropes or strings, tied to equipment.
  • Use of age-inappropriate equipment: Inadequate signage about what equipment is appropriate for children of different ages can encourage use of age-inappropriate equipment. When a child uses playground equipment that is too heavy or otherwise inappropriate for their age, they are at greater risk of injury. 
  • Failure of supervision: Failure of supervision is one of the most common causes of playground injuries. When playground staff take their eyes off the kids under their watch, nasty injuries may occur because no one was watching the kids and ensuring they engage in safe play. 
  • Bullying: Playground authorities are expected to take appropriate steps to prevent or diminish the occurrence of bullying on their grounds. Unfortunately, certain authorities fail in this duty, leading to avoidable incidents of bullying that may lead to injuries. 
  • Clothing entanglement hazards: The NPPS reports that 22% of playgrounds had potential clothing entanglement hazards such as open “s-hooks” and protruding bolts. This can be very dangerous, as strangulation or whiplash can result from such hazards. 
  • Worn, broken, or loose equipment: Roughly 64% of playgrounds studied by the NPPS displayed signs of worn out, rusting, or rotting equipment. Another 34% had broken or missing play components. These can lead to an injury risk for boisterous children hard at play. 

In some instances where playground injuries occur, the causes may not be so straightforward. But a qualified playground injury attorney can help investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury, and determine who is responsible and how. 

Liability Theories for Playground Accidents

After meeting with a playground injury attorney, one of the first things they would do is help determine what liability theories apply to your case. These are principles of law under which the at-fault parties can be held responsible. Some of the theories that may apply include the following: 

Improper supervision

One of the primary duties of playground authorities, especially in schools and daycares, is that of supervision. While children are at a certain age, particularly during pre-adolescence, they require constant supervision by responsible adults. When there is no or insufficient supervision, they may engage in conduct or behavior that puts them at risk of injury, or even worse, death. 

This risk increases greatly while children are at play. It can be difficult for children to immediately recognize the implications of dangerous play, which is why playgrounds have adult supervisors around to monitor their play. When playground authorities fail to adequately supervise children while at play, or put them under the charge of an incompetent person, they may be held responsible for improper supervision. 

Negligent maintenance

In addition to their duties of supervision, playground authorities are responsible for maintaining the equipment on their grounds. They must take proper steps to ensure that the equipment is in good shape, whether that means taking care of the repairs by themselves or seeing to it that the necessary repairs are carried out. 

Failing to properly maintain playground equipment and allowing children access to these faulty play areas may ground a case of negligence. The legal principle of negligence applies when an individual or entity fails to do what they should, or does what they are not allowed to. In this case, an aggrieved parent may file a claim against the playground authorities if their child or ward is injured due to such improperly maintained equipment. 

Defective equipment

In certain instances, injuries may result not because the equipment was improperly maintained, but because it was defective from the start. In this case, the applicable liability theory will be the defective product theory. Here, the manufacturer of the playground equipment may be liable for any injuries that happen to a child as a result. 

Playground equipment may be defective due to design defects, manufacturing defects, or construction defects. Your playground injury attorney will explain which of these defects has occasioned injury in the case of your child, and advise you on how to go about recovering compensation. 

Determining Responsibility for Playground Injuries

Recovering compensation for a playground injury will depend, in large part, on identifying the most responsible party. Sometimes, this will be clear; while at other times, there may be two or more parties that may share liability. In any case, some of the parties you may be able to hold responsible include the staff of the playground authority, the playground authority itself, or the manufacturer of the equipment. 

Playground staff may be responsible where they failed to carry out their duties effectively, or where they acted contrary to these duties. In most cases that a member of staff was liable, it will also be possible to hold the playground authority liable as well. This is based on principles of employer liability. 

Each of the members of staff and the playground authority may be ordered to pay you compensation by a court of law. Often, this compensation will be paid by the insurance company that provides coverage for the playground authority and its employees. 

In situations where the injury was caused by defective equipment, the primary liable party will be the manufacturer. Or, where the injury occurred because a third party responsible for maintaining the property failed to effectively carry out its duties, you may be able to hold them responsible instead. 

What Happens if the Playground Is Public?

The CDC reports that roughly 75% of non-fatal injuries caused by playground equipment occur on public playgrounds. This means there’s a significant chance that the injury complained of occurred on public property. How does this affect your chances of recovering compensation? 

Generally, the fact that the playground belongs to or is operated by public authorities does not diminish your right to compensation. You can equally file a lawsuit against the municipal authority, state, or federal government for the hurt your child has suffered. 

However, the primary difference is that you will be required to file your claim a lot sooner than if the injury occurred on a private playground. You may have no more than 6 months to file your claim, as opposed to 2 years in most other cases. Therefore, you will need to act quickly. Also, you may be required to proceed using specific forms that your playground injury attorney will advise you about. 

Our Playground Injury Attorney Can Help

If your child or ward was injured in a playground injury, reach out to the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Haytham Faraj for help. Our attorneys have established a reputation as aggressive trial attorneys who will not back down unless you win. Contact us at 312-635-0800 (Chicago) or 323-902-0730 (Los Angeles) to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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