(219)736-9700 info@davidholublaw.com

Playground Injuries

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from the mother of a child injured on playground equipment who called wanting advice. She wanted to know if she had grounds to sue the school where her daughter was severely injured while playing. School employees failed to seek immediate medical attention or tell the family about the serious nature of the child’s injuries.

The injured girl was 9 years old and suffered a concussion and fracture to her skull. She played at recess at an elementary school when she hit her head after falling from monkey bars. She fell onto a hard concrete surface on a pedestrian walkway next to the playground equipment.

A school employee working as a playground supervisor was in the area when the child fell. The playground supervisor knew that the girl had lost consciousness for 3 or 4 minutes, but never sought medical attention for the girl and never told others at the school or the girl’s parents what happened.

The girl was left to finish the school day. When the child was picked up after school, her mom was concerned that something was wrong and took the girl to the hospital to be evaluated. At the hospital, the extent of the girl’s injuries was uncovered.

Cases like this are all too common. We have represented several families in this situation. One time it was a broken arm, and another time it was a head injury. One time, a finger nearly severed when a child grabbed the rails on a slide. – The finger injury was not easy to hide. So was the fracture, but it was not a complete fracture

A common thread is that school employees often try to cover up what happens. In one case involving a boy who broke his arm, the playground supervisor admitted in a deposition to viewing her cell phone messages when the injury occurred.

Playground injuries are often easily preventable with a few design modifications to traditional equipment. Placing softwood bark chips under monkey bars is one way to reduce injuries. There is nothing intrinsically dangerous about play equipment such as swings, slides, seesaws, jungle gyms, and merry-go-rounds. Safety should be a priority, however.

It is pretty easy to ensure the surface underneath playground equipment is resilient enough to avoid serious injury due to a fall. There should be no sharp edge hazards. There should be no platforms without rails, no protrusion or entanglement hazards and the play area should not contain trip hazards.

But, if a person is hired to supervise children around playground equipment, they should do their job and provide supervision. They should also facilitate medical care if an injury occurs, tell the school nurse, and inform the child’s parents.

Lawsuits serve several vital purposes. One, they are a means to set right what went wrong by allowing court-ordered compensation. Two, they help make sure that safety supervisors do their jobs. Lawsuits encourage insurance companies to twist the arms of the people they insure to be safer to limit payouts on claims. Such pressure, in turn, makes the playground a safer place.

“Public” playground equipment is usually designed for children ages 6 months through 12 years. The term playground includes play areas beyond just the school playground:

  • Commercial childcare facilities
  • Apartment and condominium buildings
  • Community-maintained parks
  • Restaurants with child play areas
  • Resorts

Based on the caller’s concerns, a solid legal case can be made against the school and its employees for lack of supervision and failure to provide medical care or inform the parents.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”