How Common Are Playground Or Schoolyard Injury Cases?
One of the most frequent questions that our Manhattan playground accident lawyers hear is “my child got hurt on a playground, Does that mean it is my son or daughter’s fault”. The answer is often times it is not the child’s fault, because the accident occurred because the playground itself was dangerous. All New York City playground accident lawyers see a large number of accidents on the playground that occur in various settings. These include the New York City public playgrounds, the New York City schools and private schools in New York City. Our personal injury attorneys often see cases involving inappropriate playground equipment, defective playground equipment and playground equipment that is dangerous because it was not properly maintained. For example, a playground may not be appropriate for children of a certain age group or may not be properly labelled. Another category of accidents that our lawyers see in New York City involves poor maintenance of the playground itself.
There are a number of standards that are published by the New York Consumer Protection Agency that delineate the standards to which playgrounds are supposed to live up to. It’s in the handbook for public playground safety, and the handbook has actually been adopted by New York State as law. New York State requires that all playgrounds in the New York City playground system, as well as playgrounds that are affiliated with New York schools and the New York City Board of Education comply with New York General Business Law, Section 399-DD. This section endorses the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Handbook for public playground safety as a reference. This playground safety handbook contains very strict standards involving the spacing of gaps, such as gaps between a platform and a bridge, the labeling of playgrounds for age appropriateness and even the type of surfacing that must surround the playground equipment.
One of the biggest injuries that our Manhattan playground accident attorneys, see is improper fall protection or surfacing. There are very strict standards on the kind of fall protection that a playground must have. For example, if woodchips surround the playground equipment (which is one of the most commonly used types of playground surfacing, and is also known as engineered wood fiber), then the regulations require nine inches of fall protection. A fall is more likely to cause injury when it is less than nine inches. Falls from playground equipment are certainly foreseeable.
Our New York City playground accident lawyers have handled countless cases involving falls from equipment, and we know that people can get hurt if there isn’t a proper buffer. We have dealt with a number of fractured arms and legs that occurred as the result of falls from equipment onto improper surfacing.
Who Is Generally Going To Be Liable For A Public Playground Or A Private School Playground Accident?
Under New York State law, whoever owns the land is responsible to maintain and install the playground equipment in a reasonably safe condition. There are countless public playgrounds throughout the city of New York in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. All of them are maintained by New York City’s Park and Recreations Department, which is a subdivision of New York City. So, in the case of public New York City parks, the city of New York is responsible to install and maintain the playground equipment in a safe manner.
For a private school, it is going to be the entity that owns the school. A lot of times you will see union free school districts. In those cases, the school district or board of education actually owns the playground equipment, so it is the school district’s responsibility to maintain those playgrounds in a reasonably safe condition for the kids. In general, the rule in New York (especially in New York City) is that you have to exercise the same degree of care that a reasonably prudent parent would exercise. In general, it means that you have to keep the playground safe for the kids, and that they have to comply with the standards and regulations in the US Consumer Handbook for Playground Safety.
Unfortunately, New York playground accident attorneys have seen too many cases where inadequate playground maintenance or just sloppy work during installation created dangerous conditions. For example, we’ve had cases where metal was installed at a bad angle and caused kids to unsafely slide down and get injured. We’ve handled cases involving dangerous gaps between one play area and another, or between a bridge and a platform. There can be inadequate surfacing around the playground itself, causing children to get hurt if they fall down. We’ve also seen a number of cases where the metal on playground equipment was just so poorly maintained that it was actually worn and slippery, which caused kids to fall off.
So, those are the general answers as to who is responsible. Usually, it’s whoever owns the property and whoever maintains it. In New York City, it’s either going to be the city of New York or the school district. If it’s a private school, then the landowner of the school is responsible.
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