New York Playground Accident Lawyer
Injuries and Accidents on the Playground
What could bring more pleasure to us as parents than watching our children happily at play on a playground, hearing their shrieks of delight while on swing sets and slides? We’re content knowing our kids are safe at play as long as we are watching them. We trust that the monkey bars are maintained, and that the municipality or school has taken that extra step to ensure the equipment remains inviting and kid-friendly. While appealing and welcoming, however, outdoor play areas can pose a serious risk for children of all ages. In fact, if your child has been injured in a public or private play area you may already know the consequences. Disaster can strike quickly on the playground, turning an average enjoyable family outing into a drastic turn of events. This could mean the difference between putting your child to bed at night, or spending the evening in the emergency room, followed by time spent away from work caring for your injured child.
Negligence resulting in playground injuries comes in many forms, and fingers can point to substandard equipment, maintenance of equipment, improper surfaces, lack of supervision and more. Such negligence can occur at a home on an outdoor play set, or in a public area such as a park, vacation resort, school playground or daycare center. According to a 2009 report from the Center for Disease Control, the occurrences of playground accidents represented over 200,000. This included 47 deaths in the years 1990-2000, with 70% of those deaths from home play equipment. The CDC report further cited children ages five through nine as the age group most likely to visit the emergency room resulting from playground injuries. (http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Playground-Injuries/)
If your child has been injured on a playground or at the home of another parent, and you suspect negligence or product defect has played a part in jeopardizing the safety of your child, your best immediate course of action is to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in playground injury. The Finz & Finz, P.C. personal injury law firm is renowned for representing claimants in such cases, and we would be happy to talk to you about your situation. You can contact the Finz firm toll free at (855) TOP-FIRM of simply fill out the free Playground Accident Injury Case Evaluation form.
Common Causes of Playground Accidents and Injuries
Playground equipment has become trendier, fancier and more expensive over the years. Manufacturers have recognized the need for equipment to motivate the development of behavioral, motor and cognitive skills in children. As a result, they try to create products that encourage stimulation in these areas. Most playground equipment features some type of slide, passageway, set of stairs, or area through which children can pop their heads. Despite the creativity of the manufacturers and their intent to produce a safe product, however, there are still many risks related to play equipment. Parents and caretakers should know some of the risks and signs, whether they be signs of a neglected playground, unregulated play area, or safety hazards in general. Those risks are:
- Strangulation (in the 2009 CDC study, accounted for 56% of deaths)
- Falls (in the 2009 CDC study, accounted for 20% of deaths)
- Collisions (between children and with another object, such as a swing or ball)
- Entrapment in overhead openings
- Sharp edges and hot surfaces on equipment
- Improper ground surface (non-impact absorbing surface)
- Broken and outdated equipment
- Infrequency of playground inspection by those who regulate the area
- Improper signage to determine age-appropriateness (whether over-age or under-age)
- Lack of supervision
If you suspect that any of the above factors have played a part in the injury of your child, or may be a hazard in the current playground where you take your child, you will want to seek expert advice before you proceed with any actions. Determining regulations can mean jumping through several political hoops to enforce change. And, while you may want to take matters into your own hands, reporting conditions or incidents may or may not result in immediate attention on the part of authorities.
Guidelines Relating to Playground Accidents and Injuries
Filling the need to establish regulations and citing prevalence of childhood playground injuries over time, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) (www.cpsc.gov) developed stringent guidelines for playgrounds. One of these guidelines addressed proper protective ground surfacing in case of falls. They asserted that playgrounds should avoid asphalt, concrete, grass and soil surfacing. Instead, surfacing should consist of loose-fill materials like shredded rubber, mulch, wood chips or fine sand. Materials like these prove more likely to absorb the impact of any falls, and could lessen the extent of the injury, depending on how far the child fell from the equipment. Realizing another trend in playground injuries, they issued voluntary guidelines for drawstrings in children’s wear (such as jackets, sweatshirts and other upper body garments) which were found to cause a number of injuries in which the cord or child became entangled or stuck on a piece of equipment. The CPSC also graded the nation’s playgrounds by re-visiting more than 3,000 schools, childcare facilities and parks. Their findings are somewhat alarming. While conditions have improved slightly, the national playgrounds still rank as “average” in the area of safety. In an effort to enlist the reporting of unsafe playgrounds, the CPSC provides a worksheet for parents to evaluate risks on the playgrounds in their neighborhoods. (http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/Pg1.pdf)
Following suit, the National Program for Playground Safety (http://playgroundsafety.org/) later made a goal of recruiting all 50 states to adopt regulations regarding playground safety. Currently only 16 states have adopted part or all of those safety guidelines. Is your state among those enforcing playground regulations for the safety of your children? Visit http://playgroundsafety.org/standards/regulations to find out more.
Prevention of Playground Accidents and Injuries
As parents, we trust that the playgrounds in our neighborhoods and schools are safe, and that the equipment ismaintained properly. While we can often take that trust for granted, there are also ways that we can participate by insisting those who regulate the play area take part in the following:
- Posting of signage outlining age-appropriateness for certain pieces of equipment and designated areas of play (for instance: “no children over 10” or “no children under 4”)
- Limiting the number of children on a piece of equipment or in a designated area
- Enforcing the implementation of proper ground surfaces (not asphalt or concrete)
- Educating children on how to play safely on the equipment
- Looking for broken pieces of glass or trash in the play area, and checking the equipment itself for sharp edges or broken pieces
- Instilling proper play manners in children (such as no pushing, shoving or trampling)
Playgrounds will continue to be developed in neighborhoods for the enjoyment of our children, and will always be a favorite destination for children of many ages. Everyone has a responsibility when it comes to the safety of our children, yet proving who is responsible when an injury occurs can be more challenging than it sounds.
Legal Issues and Assistance Related to Playground Accidents and Injuries
The costs involved with playground-related injury litigation can escalate when doing so on your own, and the steps can be time consuming in trying to determine who was at fault and whether negligence or product defect was to blame. In 2003, it was estimated that the cost of playground equipment-related injuries amounted to approximately $6.8 billion. Playground injuries can result in costly medical bills and extended time off from work to care for an injured child.
Instead of taking on the legal issues by yourself, your best course of action is to contact a law firm that specializes in this area. The team at the Finz law firm consists of playground accident attorneys renowned for achieving desirable results in personal injury litigation lawsuits. The lawyers and paralegals at the firm are standing by to answer your questions about your incident. The Finz firm team is prepared to aggressively prosecute a lawsuit for you and your child. Without any obligation, we invite you to fill out and submit our Free Playground Accident Injury Case Evaluation form, or you can contact us toll free at (855) TOP-FIRM to further discuss your case. Nothing compares to the price of protecting our children. We want to be there to help you in your efforts.