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Should An Adult Supervisor Be Held Accountable For A Schoolyard Accident?

Whether or not a teacher is responsible for a schoolyard accident depends on how the accident happened. In general, the schools are responsible because it’s the school custodian or school employees that control the conditions. The school teachers are only responsible in cases of negligent supervision, meaning that they were not properly watching the children or allowed them to engage in somewhat dangerous activities. In order to hold a teacher responsible and to hold a school responsible for the teacher’s actions, you have to show that the teacher was negligent or careless in the supervision of the class itself. This means that the kids were doing something unsafe (like playing rough or engaging in horseplay) and the teacher did not stop it.

One case that our school accident and injury lawyers saw involved kids who were engaging in unsafe strength activities by lifting up various items. One of the kids lifted up and accidentally dropped a volley ball pole on another kid, and we were able to prove that the teachers knew what was going on and basically did nothing about it. Another common example of negligent supervision is when coaches encourage kids to play tackle without the proper gear. In those cases, you can generally say that the teacher wasn’t exercising proper supervision. We see a lot of cases of negligent supervision where the teacher just isn’t there at all, the kids are running around wild and one of them gets hurt.

What Difference Does It Make If The Accident Occurred On Public Premises Vs. Private Premises?

One of the main differences that all attorneys who handle playground accidents need to be aware of is that New York has a notice of requirements. If you are injured on a private schoolyard, the general statute of limitations is three years, and you can sue the landowner until the child turns 18. However, it is very different on a public school ground or in a public park. In those cases, a notice of claim has to be filed with the appropriate municipality within 90 days off the accident. In general, if it’s a New York City playground, then a notice of claim must be filed with the Corporation Council at 100 Church Road in New Manhattan within 90 days of the accident. Then, the relevant statute of limitations is a year and 90 days, although that doesn’t really start to run until the child is 18 years old. But the time to file a notice of claim is not extended until the child turns 18 years old.

If you’ve been injured in a public park or playground in New York City due to some kind of dangerous condition, then a parent or a guardian needs to retain a New York City playground accident lawyer to file a notice of claim as soon as possible. Once those 90 days are up, you have to get special permission from the court to sue, which our attorneys have successfully done on several occasions.

Is There A Different Statute Of Limitations For Playground Or Schoolyard Accidents?

The statute of limitations is the same regardless of whether a child or an adult is injured. However, the child statute of limitations generally doesn’t start to run until the child turns 18. In general, the New York statute of limitations for a case against the municipality is a year and 90 days, but the 90 day period requires a notice of claim. So in other words, within 90 days of the incident the parent needs to retain a qualified New York City playground accidents attorney and have the notice of claim filed. For a private park or a privately owned property, the statute of limitations is three years, and that also begins to run when the child turns 18.

How Do I Go About Proving A Negligent Supervision Case Under New York Law?

We can break this down into two different categories. First, for a dangerous condition type of case, the most important thing is to retain an attorney right away. We will typically send out our investigator to photograph the conditions of the playground, because you have to be able to physically establish that the playground was unsafe at the appointed time the child used it. So, if the parent is able to, they should always get pictures of the accident. That is always for the best. If not, they can always retain a playground accident lawyer, and we will have our investigators photograph the accident.

One important thing in a school ground surfacing case is proving the actual depth of the wood chips, which means taking a ruler, pushing it down to the bottom and taking pictures of the actual depth in the area where the child fell. In other types of cases, measurements become very important, and we may send an engineer out to take measurements. It’s important to be able to prove the conditions in the area of inappropriate playground labelling. A lot of times we’ll retain the services of a certified playground inspector to inspect the equipment and make sure it has appropriate signs.

Now, in terms of improper supervision, the most important thing to figure out is exactly what happened and how the child got hurt. You want to figure out what the child was actually doing that was dangerous, what adults were actually present, and for how long the activity was going on. Under New York law, the general rule is that the school has notice of the activity. The staff of the school has to have sufficient time to know that there was some kind of dangerous activity going on and to intervene. If we can’t establish that, then there is usually no case. However, if the activity was going on for five or 10 minutes and the teachers either weren’t there or weren’t paying attention, then that would usually be considered negligent supervision on a school yard.

Get Information on Negligent Adult Supervision in NY or call the Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph, PLLC for a free Initial Consultation at 212-858-0503 and get the legal answers you are seeking

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