Law Offices of David G. Arganian, Seattle, WA

Playground Injuries - More Common Than You Think

More than 200,000 injuries per year occur as a result of playground accidents in children 14 years old and younger according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If your child is injured at a playground or a daycare center, the property owner or managing entity may be liable for the damages.

The local park can be a great place for kids to get some exercise, meet friends or make new ones, and get fresh air. However, it is important to remember that activity on playground equipment carries certain risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children under 14 years of age suffer more than 200,000 injuries every year requiring emergency medical care. These injuries range from lacerations and broken bones to concussions, serious head trauma, strangulation, and spinal damage due to falls on the playground surface. Many of these injuries are preventable with proper supervision, park and equipment maintenance, and safety inspections to ensure compliance with local and state building codes.

Faulty or malfunctioning equipment, or equipment that is unsafe due to code violations are two concerns when utilizing public parks, playgrounds, or play equipment at private daycare facilities. Equipment should comply with all local building codes; railings should secure any elevated surfaces, and should feature rails of a width which prevents the head or any limb from becoming trapped. Equipment such as swings and other suspended devices should be free from wear and tear, and must be free from rust or other deterioration. Elevated equipment such as monkey bars or rails should have a resilient surface (such as rubber or wood chips) underneath to soften a child's fall and prevent broken bones, concussions, or spinal injury.

Of special concern when visiting public recreational areas, swimming pools should be regularly maintained to prevent injury by falls or drowning. Sufficient access to pool ladders or stairs should be available and in good working condition. Non-slip surfaces should be present around the pool to avoid falls or injury on wet surfaces. Most importantly, drains in a public pool must meet code to prevent entrapment underwater. Drains and filtration systems should be well maintained and inspected regularly. The CDC reports drowning as a leading cause of death for kids under the age of four, and the fifth leading cause of accidental death for people of all groups.

Whenever utilizing public recreation grounds, supervision is the key to preventing injury to your child. While some recreational areas provide supervision (such as lifeguards), the safety of a child is best served by diligent attention while playing or swimming; however, should your child be injured or die as a result of accidents at a public recreation area or daycare center, it is important to determine if negligence on the part of the property owner contributed to the incident. As with other types of premises liability, if it is demonstrated that the property owner was aware (or should have been aware of) broken or malfunctioning equipment, unsafe conditions, or code violations, they may be responsible for compensation for medical care, pain & suffering, or other damages. This liability is demonstrated through a discovery process with the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney.

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