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How Does Liability Work for Playground Accident Injuries?

Safety guidelines exist for playgrounds. A failure to provide a safe playground can result in liability.

Playgrounds are intended to provide children and families with a place to have fun. Although most people enjoy these public facilities without incident, accidents are not uncommon. In some situations, the accident may lead to serious injuries.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that over 200,000 injuries occur on public playgrounds throughout the country that require emergency department care every year. The agency reports that the two most common causes of injuries are falls and accidents involving "equipment-related hazards." These hazards can include accidents due to equipment breakage, tips, design flaws and poor assembly. In some cases, playground accidents can also be fatal. Deaths due to playground equipment were reportedly caused from entanglement of ropes, falls and accidents involving impact from equipment tips or structural failures.

Playground Injuries: Safety Guidelines and Liability

In an effort to reduce the risk of these accidents, the CPSC released a publication with various safety guidelines. These guidelines touch on everything from acceptable substrates for use below playground equipment like pea gravel or rubber mulch to appropriate and inappropriate equipment, like the need to avoid the use of trampolines and most multiple occupancy swings. The failure to ensure a playground meets these guidelines will likely increase the liability of the landowner for any resulting injuries.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) clarifies that landowners owe a legal duty of care to invitees to "inspect and repair or remove known or discoverable hazards within a reasonable time." An invitee is defined as those encouraged to enter the premise. When dealing with a park, this would include children.

In instances when it is not possible to properly address a hazard, the owner must generally provide adequate warning. Owners are also required to maintain the equipment. As a part of the guidelines provided in the CPSC's Safety Handbook noted above, the agency recommends a comprehensive maintenance program that includes inspection for wear, deterioration and potential hazards.

Playground Injuries: Legal Remedies

Depending on the details of the accident, remedies for injuries from accidents on playground equipment may be available through a civil suit. These remedies can include compensation to help cover the costs associated with the injury, such as medical and rehabilitative expenses.

It is important to note that defenses are available to those who own and maintain the playground. One example of a defense that may be attempted is the need for those using the equipment to act reasonably and look out for their safety. Because the defense will attempt to underplay their liability, it is wise for those who are injured in these accidents to seek the counsel of an experienced playground injury lawyer. This legal professional will review the details of your case and investigate the accident, advocating to better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected.