Children getting hurt on playgrounds is a normal part of life, but injuries should be limited to scrapes and bruises. When a child is seriously injured, it raises questions about why the injury happened and who is responsible. If your child has been injured on a playground due to someone else’s actions or inaction, you may have the right to sue for compensation.
Can I Sue If My Child Got Injured at a Playground?
You can generally sue any time your child was injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. To be able to sue for a playground injury, you’ll need to show each of the following things.
- An injury to your child. If your child simply falls off of playground equipment but isn’t injured, you wouldn’t have anything to sue for. However, the fact that other children previously fell or had something else happen where they luckily weren’t injured could be used as proof of a dangerous condition in a lawsuit for a child who was injured.
- Financial loss. A lawsuit also generally requires some sort of financial loss or damages. If your child had a minor scrape that only required a Band-Aid, you likely wouldn’t have a financial loss that warrants a lawsuit.
- A legal duty to your child. There needs to be someone who was responsible for causing or not preventing the injury. For example, a legal duty might include a playground manufacturer not making playground equipment with sharp edges exposed to children using the equipment.
- The injury was caused by a breach of the legal duty. Your child’s injury must be caused by a breach of a legal duty. It’s not enough that the playground equipment was unsafe if it didn’t cause injury. For example, if a child is injured in a fight with a sibling and wasn’t hurt by the unsafe equipment, you can’t sue for the unsafe equipment.
Who Is Liable for Playground Injuries?
There are three common categories of people or businesses who may be liable for playground injuries — the playground owner, the playground equipment manufacturer, and whoever was supposed to be supervising the playground.
Playground Owner Liability
The owner of a playground or property where a playground is located may be liable under the theory of premises liability. Premises liability means that a property owner is responsible for keeping their property in a safe condition and is responsible for injuries that result if they don’t keep their property in a safe condition.
A playground owner has a number of legal duties to keep a playground safe, ranging from selecting the right equipment to maintaining the equipment in good condition. Here are some examples of when a playground owner may be liable.
- Selecting equipment that is known to be unsafe, such as equipment that has been the cause of previous accidents.
- Selecting equipment that is not suitable for its intended purpose, such as equipment for older children in a playground made for younger children.
- Lack of appropriate signs giving precautions, such as the intended age of children using the playground, warnings of surfaces that may get too hot during high temperatures, or the proper use of playground equipment.
- Lack of safety features, such as padding or soft surfaces in areas where children are likely to fall.
- Failing to inspect for loose screws, rotting wood, broken surfaces, or other safety hazards.
- Not having proper clearance around swings.
These are only examples of where a playground owner may be liable. If you believe there was something else about a playground that is unsafe and your child is injured, you may still be able to sue.
Playground Equipment Manufacturer Liability
The manufacturer of a product is liable when something about the way their product was made causes injuries. This includes playground equipment. The problem might be with the design of the equipment or an error during the manufacturing process.
A common example of a design problem where the playground manufacturer might be liable is a metal slide. Due to many injuries caused by hot slides, nearly all new playgrounds use slides made out of plastic.
Problems in the manufacturing process might include failing to put a cover on a screw or a flaw in the molding process that makes plastic structures not as strong as they should be.
If you don’t know who manufactured the playground equipment, you can still sue the property owner for a dangerous condition on their property. As part of their defense, they can show who the manufacturer was and why they are responsible. Your attorney can help you with the correct process for doing this.
Liability for Failure to Supervise
Failure to supervise is a different type of liability. Even though the playground equipment itself may have been safe, an injury can happen if someone who was supposed to be making sure the kids were following the rules and playing safely failed to supervise them.
There are various people who may be responsible for supervising a playground:
- Employees of a private or public playground
- Parents, other family members, or babysitters who bring a child to a playground
- Camps, churches, or other youth groups that bring children to a playground.
The possible liability for failing to supervise will depend on that person’s legal duty. If a playground is in a private business, that business may have employees whose job it is to monitor the playground. In a public park, the park may not provide supervision, but people who bring their kids should make sure their kids don’t hurt others. If you place your child under someone else’s care, such as a daycare, they may have a duty to make sure your child doesn’t get into an unsafe situation.
Playground Injury Lawsuit
If your child was injured and you believe someone was liable, you may have grounds for a playground injury lawsuit. In order to maximize the chances of your claim being successful, it is important to take action as quickly as possible.
- Notify the playground owner and any group or person who brought your child there as soon as possible after the injury.
- Take photographs of the dangerous conditions if possible. Remember that the conditions may be temporary or may be repaired, so there may not be a good record of the conditions if you don’t take photographs.
- Bring your child to a doctor immediately or the next morning. Even if you don’t believe they need urgent care, it’s important to document their injuries and to have them checked for any additional injuries.
- Call a child injury lawyer for a consultation. Even if you aren’t sure you want or need to sue, they can help you understand what steps you need to take to preserve evidence that you may need if you do decide to sue.
What to Do if My Child Is Injured on a School Playground
If your child has been injured on a school playground, you should know that Texas has a sovereign immunity law that limits what lawsuits you can bring against the government and its employees. Generally, public schools and school districts are very insulated from potential liability.
Playground Injury Negligence Case
Your case is more than just a lawsuit — it starts when your child was first injured. In fact, most cases will never go to trial.
It’s fairly common to receive a settlement offer from the business or their insurance company. However, accepting an offer normally means you waive the right to receive more compensation and may have to give up other legal rights as a condition of the offer. It is a good idea to review a potential offer with your attorney before taking any action to decide whether you should take it, negotiate, or file a premises liability lawsuit.
Get Help from a Playground Injury Lawyer
If your child has been injured on a playground and you want to know if you can sue, a playground injury lawyer can help you understand what compensation you may be entitled to. Call Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law now at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 for a free consultation about your case.