When parents leave their children in the care of teachers, playground staff and the school management team, they do so with the assumption that their child is in a safe environment and will not come to any form of harm. That being said, children are extremely accident-prone, and if you are a parent you will be used to the cuts and grazes your child comes home with. However, while minor scrapes are treated easily with a common first aid kit, there are approximately 40,000 injuries to children each year on playgrounds that result in a trip to the hospital.
How do playground injuries happen?
According to one of the National Playground Safety Institute, some of the main causes of these accidents are:
• Incorrect installation of play equipment
• Poor design of playground layout
• Play equipment unsuitable for intended age group
• Poor maintenance
• Equipment design does not comply with standards
• Inadequate fall zone
• Improper protective surfacing
In general, the majority of play-equipment related injuries come from swings; however, climbing frames, slides and roundabouts have also proved to be involved in many playground accidents. While equipment is often central to the accident, one major cause of playground injury is lack of supervision. While playground staff and daycare centre employees are required to keep an eye on each child to ensure their safety, having a large group to watch over can become difficult when the children disperse into their own groups. Sometimes, however, playground staff might engage in personal activities such as texting to pass the time, and this is when your child is at risk – not only of falling over or from the equipment but from other children, too.
The law states that the property owners of the playground, as well as any members of staff in these establishments, have a duty of care to the children who attend their centres, and are obligated to undertake any means that ensure the children's wellbeing; from regular inspections of the grounds to interventions in fights and or/bullying. Therefore, when the property owner fails to do everything possible to protect the children, they have breached their duty of care and are liable for the injury sustained to the child.
My child was injured in the playground: how do I prove it?
If your child has been injured during the time they spent in the school/daycare centre premises and wish to sue for negligence, you will usually need to provide some form of evidence. While lack of supervision can be assumed in certain cases, with a large group of children under the responsibility of one or two staff members it’s difficult to prove that the distraction was intentional – it’s a generally accepted view that a staff member can not watch each child at all times and can only provide as much supervision as realistically possible.
Therefore, the stronger evidence you have, the stronger your case will be. If the injury was sustained as a result of unsafe play equipment, you may want to investigate the equipment yourself and take photographic evidence: was it a jagged nail protruding from a fence? Were the bars on the climbing frame rusty? Make sure your camera has a date recording function so that your evidence is accurate and in line with the time that your child was injured.
It may also be beneficial for you to get in touch with parents of children who attend the same facility to find out whether they have experienced similar injuries, even minor. Ask them to write down anything they know about a potential supervision issue or equipment related problem. This will strengthen your case.
Upon the hospital or health centre visit, ensure you get a doctor's written diagnosis which states exactly how the child was harmed so that it can be ruled out as a “self-inflicted” injury. It is also vital to make copies of any medical bills along with the child’s medical records.
If I feel my child has suffered due to negligence can you help?
If you feel as though your child may have suffered due to negligence our team of professional child injury solicitors are dedicated to helping you make a claim. We understand the distress such a situation can cause and approach each individual empathetically. We also relate to how complex making a claim can often be and always aim to make this situation stress free and simple, in order for you to concentrate on the bigger things, such as getting better!
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors are Manchester Personal Injury Specialists with expertise in handling a broad range of Personal Injury Claims, including everything from Child Injury Claims and Accident at Work Claims to Medical Negligence Claims.