Phoenix Personal Injury Attorneys
Parents in Arizona generally think of a playground as a safe place for their children to play. Unfortunately this is not always true. The development of an appropriate play area for children takes careful planning and in some cases schools or governmental bodies fall short.
According to an article published in Trial Magazine a few years ago, more than 200,000 children are seen in emergency rooms each year as a result of playground injuries. Seventy-five percent of these injuries occur on public playgrounds, and 75 percent are caused by falls. Thirty-six percent are classified as severe. At least 15 children die each year because of playground injuries, mostly caused by falls to hard surfaces, strangulation by entanglement and head entrapment.
The presumption is that most of these injuries occur on a limited number of aging playgrounds. Investigations show, however, that safety problems exist on both old and new playgrounds and are widespread. In a nationwide survey of 760 playgrounds, 87 percent lacked adequate protective surfaces, 42 percent had equipment with head entrapment hazards, and 40 percent had equipment with protruding parts that could cause clothing to become entangled. Overall, 43 percent of the playgrounds surveyed had at least one piece of hazardous equipment.
Preventable Injuries Starts with Safe Equipment
Studies have shown that most playground injuries and deaths can be prevented with safe equipment design and safe playground operation. Historically it has been common for playground operators to try to place the blame for an injury on he child who fell or on another boy or girl who pushed the injured child. Such excuses, however, in many instances do not hold up. The duty to provide safe play areas should be placed on those responsible for marketing playground equipment and on those responsible for marketing the playgrounds.
Leading Causes of Playground Injuries
If your child has been injured in a playground accident, our law firm can assist you. We will investigate your case and determine whether we can pursue a liability claim against the party or parties at fault. We follow a checklist to determine whether the school or park is responsible for causing the injuries and damages. We work from what has been called the Dirty Dozen Checklist, published by the National Playground Safety Institute. It identifies the twelve leading causes of playground injuries as follows:
- Improper Protective Surfacing — The surface or ground under and around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall. Improper surfacing material under playground equipment is the leading cause of playground related injuries.
- Inadequate Fall Zone — A fall zone or use zone is the area under and around the playground equipment where a child might fall. A fall zone should be covered with protective surfacing material and must extend out specific distances from the equipment
- Protrusion and Entanglement Hazards — A protrusion hazard is a component or piece of hardware that might be capable of impaling or cutting a child if a child should fall against the hazard.
- Entrapment in Openings Enclosed — Openings on playground equipment must be checked for head entrapment hazards.
- Insufficient Equipment Spacing — Improper spacing between pieces of play equipment can cause overcrowding of a play area which may create several hazards.
- Trip Hazards — Trip hazards are created by play structure components or items on the playground.
- Lack of Supervision — The supervision of playground environment equipment directly relates to the overall safety of the environment.
- Age-Inappropriate Activities — Children’s developmental needs vary greatly from age two to age twelve. In an effort to provide a challenging and safe play environment for all ages, it is important to make sure that the equipment in the playground setting is appropriate for the age of the intended user.
- Lack of Maintenance — In order for playgrounds to remain in “safe” condition, a program of systematic, preventive maintenance must be present.
- Pinch, Crush, Shearing and Sharp Edge Hazards — Components in the play environment should be inspected to make sure that there are no sharp edges or points that could cut skin.
- Platforms with No Guardrails — Elevated surfaces such as platforms, ramps, and bridge ways should have guardrails that would prevent accidental falls.
- Equipment Not Recommended for Public Playgrounds — Accidents associated with the following types of equipment have resulted in consumer Product Safety Commission recommending that they not be used on public playgrounds.
The duty of care owed by a playground operator is the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence charged with similar duties would exercise in the same circumstances. A public or private landowner has a duty to provide adequate supervision and to maintain the premises and playground surfaces in a reasonably safe condition.
Contact Us Today
If your child has been injured, we would be happy to review your fact situation and determine whether we can pursue a claim on your behalf. Contact the Law Offices of William D. Black and we would be happy to discuss you case with you and, if appropriate, seek maximum recovery.