Playground injury lawyers fighting for the rights
of injured victims and their families
Many lessons are learned on the playground. Minor accidents happen all the time in children's play environments. Bruises, small cuts and scrapes are often part of the growing process as children become more active. Nevertheless, some injuries are avoidable. Badly maintained playground equipment, lack of supervision and dangerous foreign objects create preventable hazards that could cause injury. Victims who are injured in preventable playground accidents have legal recourse. The Plantation accident lawyers at The Ellsley Law Firm stand ready to represent accident victims in personal injury claims.
Liable parties in playground injury cases
Several different people and entities may be liable in a playground accident, depending on the unique set of details within each case. A parent, teacher or another supervising adult may be liable if the adult was responsible for keeping an eye on the injured party. A school, amusement park or other play area facility may be liable if a spill, dangerous debris or lack of safety equipment caused the victim's injury. The playground equipment manufacturer may be liable if an equipment defect caused someone's injury. The victim's injury lawyer can determine the liable party and pursue compensation accordingly.
Unsupervised playground accident victims
When at the playground, children are most often accompanied by an adult. Teachers are usually responsible for watching students during physical education class and recess. Parents and caregivers accompany children who are under their supervision to the playground. One or more parents may be charged with the responsibility of supervising kids at a birthday party that takes place at a fun zone or trampoline park. In each of these scenarios, there is a prearranged agreement for designated adults to assume responsibility for the safety of one or more kids. In these instances, the adult who is in charge may be liable if a child suffers an injury due to the parent's negligence. The injured child's parents may file a civil claim based on the doctrine of "negligent supervision."
Negligent supervision can refer to an adult's failure to monitor a child as reasonably expected or failure to restrain or a protect child who is known to require safety intervention. There are three elements a plaintiff must prove in a negligent supervision claim:
- the entity or individual had a duty to provide reasonable supervision
- the entity or individual breached the duty by failing to behave reasonably in the given circumstances
- the entity or individual's negligence caused the plaintiff's injury
The plaintiff must also provide evidence of the damages the child incurred. Florida courts evaluate whether the defendant's behavior is what a sensible or prudent person would do in similar circumstances.
Premises liability in Florida playground accidents
Some playground accidents are governed by Florida's premises liability laws. These accidents are caused by negligent behavior on behalf of a property owner, manager or business. Property owners and businesses have a legal responsibility to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. Florida's premises liability laws classify visitors into three categories: 1)invitees, 2)licensees, and 3)trespassers. Property owners owe a duty to visitors in each category. Trespassers are owed a duty if they are discovered by the property owner or manager.
In the context of a playground, the entity that owns or operates the playground has a duty to keep the space free of preventable hazards. Common preventable hazards on playgrounds are:
- broken glass on the ground
- toxic paint or other chemicals
- missing mulch or other cushioning underneath equipment
- cracked pavement
- splinters and sharp edges on equipment
- broken equipment
The attorney for the accident victim must first prove the property owner or manager owed a duty to the injured party. Proving duty is usually straightforward unless the victim was unauthorized to be on the property and no one discovered the victim's presence prior to the injury. After establishing duty, the victim's lawyer must show the defendant breached the duty. Next, the accident victim's lawyer must prove the property owner's breach of duty caused the victim's injury, resulting in damages. A Plantation, Florida personal injury lawyer can help accident victims file a claim and present the facts of their case in court.
Product liability in playground accidents
Manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by product defects. A defect may occur in the manufacturing process, the design process, or the marketing process. Product liability claims can be based on the theory of strict liability or on the theory of negligence. The strict liability theory does not require the plaintiff to prove the manufacturer behaved unreasonably. Therefore, the accident victim is only required to prove there is a defect and the defect caused the injury.
A design defect is typically a problem that occurs within the product itself and creates a more significant systemic problem. Defective designs cause every product within a particular line to be hazardous because each product has the same design features. Defective products must meet the "unreasonably dangerous" standard. Courts determine whether a product's design is unreasonably dangerous by applying the consumer expectation test. The test basically asks whether a consumer would expect the product to be safe when used as intended.
A manufacturing defect occurs during the production process. In a manufacturing defect case, the design may have been safe, but an error in the manufacturing process created unreasonable danger. The manufacturer may also be liable for errors that occur in the packaging and the distribution of the product. Therefore, if playground equipment is shipped in packaging that does not sufficiently protect the parts from becoming structurally compromised, the manufacturer may be liable for resulting injuries.
If a product does not contain the necessary warning labels to inform consumers to exercise caution when using the product, the manufacturer may be liable. In a marketing defect claim, the plaintiff must show there were obvious risks the injured party could have avoided if the manufacturer had successfully issued the required warnings. For example, a playground equipment manufacturer may be liable if it does not include a warning label advising a certain component of the equipment may heat up quickly in the sun and cause burns.