Though Attractive to Children, Playgrounds Pose a Risk of Serious Injury
Parents throughout the Atlanta area routinely take their children to playgrounds in public parks, so they can exercise and play. As children enjoy playgrounds, parents might not consider the potential danger posed by defective playground equipment that is poorly designed or that lacks appropriate safety features. Children frequently suffer injuries from unsafe playground equipment whether in Atlanta school playgrounds, a neighbor's backyards, or public parks. Many times these are minor injuries that do not result in serious injury, but sometimes children are involved in life-changing accidents that cause severe brain trauma, spinal cord damage, broken limbs and other significant injuries.
If your child has been injured in a playground equipment accident because of negligence or defective equipment, your child should have a right to compensation for his or her injuries. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, represents children who suffer serious injury on playgrounds in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Our law firm has been diligently representing thousands of those who suffer serious injuries caused by the negligence of others for over 35 years.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) puts out a Handbook for Public Playground Safety that contains playground safety standards. This publication recommends industry standards that can be used as a tool for the safe design, operation and maintenance of playground equipment. Sadly, these standards are not always observed by individuals and entities that design, manufacture, install and/or own such playsets, which is why permanent injuries can result. Violations of industry safety standards and practices often can be used in litigation to establish a failure to exercise the requisite degree of care in making this type of recreation equipment safe for kids.
Over 200,000 children are taken to emergency rooms as a result of injuries they suffer on playground equipment each year. Approximately 44 percent of these injuries occur on public playgrounds when children fall off of the equipment, according to the most recent CPSC study. The study also found that equipment-related hazards are the second most common cause of injuries (24 percent), such as tip over, design, assembly and breakage accidents. A nationwide investigation of playgrounds conducted by Kieran J. Phelan, M.D., pediatrician and lead author of a playground injury study, revealed that almost 75 percent of playgrounds did not have adequate protective surfaces installed. Other reasonably common and extremely dangerous hazards include head entrapment hazards as well as clothing-snagging dangers that can cause a fall.
Some of the most common causes of playground accidents include the following:
- Playgrounds that are built poorly
- Playgrounds designed with inadequate safety features
- Playgrounds that are not properly maintained
- Lack of sufficient adult supervision
Generally, a public or private owner of playground equipment has the responsibility to maintain it properly to prevent an unreasonable risk of harm to the children who use it. This obligation to maintain playground equipment in a reasonably safe condition applies both to private homeowners, companies and others who manufacture, distribute or maintain such equipment. A list put out by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) referred to as the "The Dirty Dozen" highlights the most common playground dangers, including the following:
- Insufficient Protective Surfaces: A soft surface of poured-in-place rubber, engineered wood fiber, wood chips, sand/pea gravel, synthetic/rubber tiles, mats, or shredded rubber can reduce the risk of injury in the event of a fall. According to the NRPA, loose fill surfaces need to be maintained to a level of approximately a one-foot depths and kept free of debris and standing water.
- Lack of Adequate Use Zone: A use zone is the area of the ground beneath and around a piece of playground equipment where a child might fall. These areas of ground need to be protected to ease a fall.
- Protrusion and Entanglement Hazards: Playground equipment often has protruding features and places where kids can get hung up or entangled to promote falls.
- Entrapment Openings: Some playground apparatuses are designed or constructed with openings that are large enough for a child to become entrapped. Children should not be able to get their heads through an opening in the equipment unless their whole body can fit through as well.
- Inadequate Equipment Spacing: When equipment is not spaced properly, injuries can occur because of overcrowding within specific areas of the playground.
- Trip Hazards: Children might trip when confronted by natural hazards such as rocks and tree roots that are not cleared, or manmade features, like exposed concrete footing that is not apparent or clearly marked.
- Lack of Adult Supervision: When small children are playing on playground equipment, adult supervision is important to prevent accidents
- Poor Maintenance: Many playground accidents result from a lack of maintenance of the equipment, such as broken, worn out or missing components.
- Platforms without Proper Guardrails: Playground equipment often includes raised platforms, bridges and ramps without adequate guardrails to prevent falls.
- Shearing, Crush and Sharp Edge Hazards: Components of playground equipment need to be inspected to identify points or sharp edges that could penetrate the skin. Moving equipment or components like merry-go-rounds and suspension bridges should be examined to ensure they do not pose a risk of crushing children's fingers or other body parts.
- Activities Not Age-Appropriate: Children that use playgrounds can vary fairly widely in terms of age. The equipment on a playground needs to be age-appropriate for the intended audience of users.
- Equipment Not Appropriate for Public Playgrounds: The CPSC has identified certain types of equipment that lack the necessary safety features to be used on public playgrounds, such as multiple occupant glider swings, trapeze bars, swinging exercise rings, free swinging ropes and more.
Few experiences are as upsetting for parents as their child suffering a serious injury. Given that playgrounds are the exclusive province of children, it is troubling that these widespread safety issues persist.
Put Our Law Firm's Over 35 Years of Legal Experience to Work For You!
The Atlanta Personal Injury Attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, help accident victims and their families in Georgia and in the Southeast. Our firm has over 35 years of experience that we will bring to your case. The sooner you act after your accident, the greater your chances of reaching a full recovery. As such, it is important that you seek the assistance of a licensed lawyer as soon as possible. Call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.