Was Your Child Injured Due to Negligence On a Playground? Contact A St. Louis Playground Injury Attorney
Everything You Need to Know About Playground Injuries
Imagine it’s a beautiful summer day here in Missouri, so you take your kids over to the nearby public park to have fun on the jungle gym playing with other kids. But not ten minutes into your arrival, you hear a scream that you would recognize anywhere: one of your children has been hurt. You run to their aid to discover the swing set they had been blissfully swaying from has somehow collapsed. They’re crying because the gash on their head is bleeding, and their knee is bent at an unnatural angle.
You rush them to the emergency room to find out they’ve suffered a concussion and will need extensive surgery to fix their broken knee. They’ll also need months of healing, and months of physical therapy after that. All because a piece of playground equipment that shouldn’t have broken, did. It’s a lot for both you and your child to go through, but as their parent, you may be able to sue the entity responsible for the playground injuries caused.
What Constitutes a Playground Injury Lawsuit?
It’s no surprise that children are frequently injured on playgrounds. Most kids are rambunctious and sometimes fearless when it comes to outdoor play. They run fast, jump far, and practically wrestle around with other kids in the process. Bumps, bruises, scratches, and sometimes worse can result from hard play that leads to an accidental injury. But when it comes to filing a lawsuit, a line must be drawn somewhere between accidental playground injury, and negligent playground injury.
If your child is injured because they fall from a secure piece of equipment, trip while running in the grass, or collide with another child, it’s most likely that you won’t be able to hold the playground owners liable for those injuries. But if your child was injured by something beyond their control that breaches the regulations and expectations of the playground in question, you may have a case.
Most serious playground injuries are caused by faulty equipment, failure to upkeep said equipment, or failure to upkeep the grounds to an extent that is negligently harmful to the kids who use it. This often makes them a case of premises liability. Whether the playground your child was enjoying is a public space, a private space they were invited onto, or even a play structure at a daycare or childcare facility, the owners of those play structures have a duty of care that they breached when your child was injured by their negligent upkeep of it.
In the swing set example, law enforcement or legal counsel may go on to discover that the swing set in question had not met recent safety inspection regulations, and the playground owners had done nothing to address that failure. Nor did they sanction off the dangerous piece of equipment or even post any warnings about using it. In this case, the owners would have breached the duty of care owed to your children, and could face a possible lawsuit.
When it comes to playgrounds, faulty, broken, sharp, or rusted equipment is a major culprit in injury. But it can also extend to things like unkept potholes or tree roots in the ground, or failure to properly notify users of dangerous conditions like surfaces that are slippery when wet.
Who to Hold Liable for Playground Injuries
Determining who is responsible for a playground accident correlates with how the injury was caused. But a primary liable party is often the owner of the playground or facility where the playground is located, and this is where some variation comes in.
If the playground is a local public park or facility, then it is likely owned by the city or town it’s located in. This means it’s owned by either the state or federal government, which is a large entity that could then be held liable. But other playgrounds can be owned by public schools, private schools, churches, private businesses or restaurants, and homeowners. In these cases, it would most likely be the individual owner of the location that would be held liable.
In some cases, however, further investigation may reveal that the owners of the equipment in question are not the ones to be held at-fault. Instead, it could be that the individuals or entities responsible for designing, constructing, maintaining, or monitoring the playground equipment failed to perform their necessary duties, thereby causing the child’s injuries.
And if you’ve hired a childcare of daycare service to take your children to a playground or monitor your children on their own playground, and it’s found that these caretakers’ negligent behavior caused your child harm, it may be found that an individual who works for the company is liable.
Discovering who, exactly, to hold liable for your child’s playground injuries can often be an extended process, and none of the possible options make for an easy road ahead. But in the case of a public facility owned by a government entity, you perhaps face the most challenge. However, an experienced St. Louis playground injury attorney can help you determine who should be held liable.
The Rules That Govern What Happens on Playgrounds
The right to sue a public playground or public school for playground injuries may be limited by certain laws that grant government entities immunity against suits. In the state of Missouri, suing a government entity is possible, but only if the plaintiff can prove four things:
- A dangerous condition existed on the public property.
- The child’s injury was a direct result of the dangerous condition.
- The dangerous condition created a foreseeable risk of harm.
- A public employee negligently created the condition, or the public entity knew of or should have known of the condition.
The reality is, these are burdens of proof that you and your legal team will be required to make in just about any type of playground injury lawsuit, regardless of who you deem liable. But when it comes to government entities, you are required to give notice and file a claim with the city before you can even approach a lawsuit so they can investigate the situation themselves. Only after they reject your claim can you then officially file a lawsuit. On top of this process, government entities often benefit from a damages cap, or a limited amount of compensation you are allowed to seek from them.
When it comes to suing a private party, however, the process tends to be a little more streamlined. There are fewer hoops to jump through to file a lawsuit, and the rules and regulations that dictate how facilities like daycares are expected to care for children are more clear-cut. For example, negligence on the part of the staff might play a much larger role in your child’s playground injury than faulty equipment alone, and that’s something the facility can additionally be held liable for.
As a parent, it’s also important to keep in mind that the liability waiver the private facility had you sign when you paid for their services holds little merit. In most cases, the state of Missouri will not view any such liability waiver as an enforceable contract, because then the facility has essentially given themselves “permission” to act as negligently as they please. These waivers are simply used by the facility as a tactic to trick parents into thinking they cannot sue.
What to Do if Your Child Is Injured on A Playground: Contact an Experienced St. Louis Playground Injury Attorney
If your child has suffered any sort of injury while playing on a playground, the very first thing to do is to get them the medical attention they need. If it’s a serious injury, take them to the hospital or an emergency room. Even if the injuries don’t seem extensive, make sure to at least have their pediatrician check them out. Some signs of trauma don’t make themselves known immediately, especially when it comes to brain injuries or other internal injuries. If your child has more than a scraped knee, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
After your child has gotten the immediate medical attention they need, it’s time to start considering your options. This is especially true if you believe their accident was caused by some type of negligent behavior on the part of the playground facility. This is when it’s wise to seek out the guidance of a St. Louis playground injury attorney or daycare injury lawyer specifically, and get your free initial consultation scheduled. The right expert will be able to tell you if you have a case and guide your next best steps.
Once you’ve hired your St. Louis playground injury attorney, make yourself available to answer any questions or provide any information as needed, but in general, let them worry about conducting their investigation and exploring the necessary legal tactics and avenues. This is the time for you to focus on helping your child recover from what they’ve been through. Make sure to keep all their medical appointments, help them with at-home care regimens, and keep ample record of all medical activity and any associated bills. These will be important for building your case and getting your child the compensation they deserve.