According to national statistics, more than 200,000 children arrive in emergency rooms each year because of injuries they sustain at parks and playgrounds. The most common cause of injuries is falls, which are responsible for almost 45 percent of ER visits. Another 25 percent of ER visits are because of playground equipment problems. Even more alarming is the high rate of traumatic brain injury children are at risk every time they jump on a swing, slide down slides, or climb and swing on the monkey bars.
One significant study found that in a 12-year period, more than 21,000 children, 14 years of age and younger, were rushed from playgrounds to hospitals with traumatic brain injuries. The most at-risk group were girls between the ages of 5 through 9. Even more alarming was that less than five percent of those victims received any follow-up medical care.
While parents are encouraged to always inspect the equipment at all playgrounds they bring their children to, owners of these facilities are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all equipment is safe, and hazards addressed and removed promptly.
The pieces of equipment responsible for the most injuries are jungle gyms and monkey bars. These pieces of equipment cause about 35 percent of all injuries to children. Approximately 30 percent of injuries occur on swings. And slides are responsible for about 20 percent of injuries to children. It should also be noted that there are more than double the rate of injuries at playgrounds that do not have impact-absorbing surfaces, such as rubber mats, sand, or wood chips.
Whether the playground is located at a business or common area at an apartment complex, the owner has a legal liability and duty of care to ensure that all the equipment is in good working order and there are no hazards in the environment of the playground. If the property owner breaches that duty of care and that breach results in a child getting injured, Virginia law says that property owner is liable for all the economic losses (i.e. medical bills) and non-economic losses (i.e. pain and suffering) that the child suffers because of the injury. In some cases, if the negligence of the property owner is especially egregious, the courts may also award punitive damages.
There may also be other potentially liable parties in addition to or beside the property owner. If the equipment was designed or produced with some kind of defect, then the manufacturer could be deemed liable.
If the equipment was installed by a company that did not install it correctly, then that company could be named as the at-fault party in a personal injury lawsuit filed on behalf of the child.
Contact our Virginia Accident Law Firm
If your child has been injured because of defective or dangerous playground equipment, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to meet with one of our Virginia personal injury attorneys to find out what legal options you and your family may have. Call our office today to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.