Children require strict supervision when engaged in activities on a playground. While most playgrounds have been designed and constructed with safety as a primary concern, they still utilize equipment that may cause injury to children playing on or around it without proper supervision. If you have placed your child under the care of another party, such as a school or babysitter, it is that party’s responsibility to provide the supervision necessary to protect your child from harm.
If your child has sustained a playground-related injury while under the supervision of another person, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Call lack-of- playground-supervision lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn about your legal options.
Common Lapses in Playground Supervision
In order for a playground to be safe for a child’s use, playground equipment must be secure and well-maintained and capable and attentive adult supervisors should be present at all times. Negligent playground supervision or lack of supervision places all children on a playground at risk. Common lapses in playground supervision include the following:
- Adult supervisor out of hearing range or line-of-sight range
- Lack of supervision while children enter or exit a playground
- Failure of adult supervisor to walk around a playground in order to observe all children on the premises
- Failure of supervisor to intervene when children behave aggressively or negligently
- Lack of communication among supervisors or between supervisors and children’s parents
- Failure to warn children of playground dangers or to prevent them from playing unsafely
Legal Liability for Negligent Playground Supervision
When an individual or institution accepts the responsibility of caring for your child, that party has a duty to adequately supervise your child while your child is in their care. A failure to fulfill this duty to supervise may render a supervisor liable for injuries your child sustains while under the supervisor’s charge.
If your child suffers an injury while on a school playground and the school’s negligent supervision is found to have been a cause of your child’s injury, the school, school district, and school employee whose job it was to supervise your child may be held liable in an action for negligence for damages sustained by your child. Playground injuries that might have been prevented by adequate supervision occur in many ways.
Some may involve the intentional act of a third party that could have been prevented by adequate and attentive adult supervision. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has reported that children between the ages of 5 and 19 experience a substantial number of injuries as a result of intentional rather than negligent acts. When such acts could have been prevented by supervisors in charge at the time, a supervisor’s inadequate supervision as well as the intentional act may be found to be a cause of the injuries sustained.
If children become involved in fighting or rough play during a playground recess, for example, and a teacher or other supervisor fails to intervene, the supervisor’s failure to break up the fight or put a stop to the rough play may be found to constitute actionable negligence by the supervisor and the school for which the supervisor works. Acts of bullying that result in injury may also be actionable if proper supervision could have prevented the bullying and any injuries that resulted.
Different rules may apply to cases for negligent supervision when the injuries in question occurred on either a public-school playground or another type of public playground. Many states’ laws grant immunity to public schools and their employees for certain injuries sustained by children while in the school’s control, though the immunity may not be complete in certain states. An action for injuries might be allowed against a public school in a particular state, but a cap on damages may limit the amount of compensation that may be awarded to a plaintiff.
The same sorts of restrictions may exist with respect to actions brought against city- or state-owned and operated playgrounds, as well. Time limits and notice requirements may also distinguish such cases from those that might be brought as a result of injuries occurring on a private-school playground.
Proving Negligent Supervision
As is true with respect to any action in negligence, a plaintiff in a negligent playground supervision case will be required to show that the supervisor in question had a duty to supervise the injured child, that the duty was breached, that the breach of duty caused injury to that child, and that the injury resulted in legally compensable damages.
School personnel assume a duty of care toward children who are under their charge during a school day. This duty may include the institution of an effective plan for the supervision of children while children are on a school playground. As school teachers and staff take the place of parents while a child is in school, the duty of care encompasses the responsibility to take all reasonable precautions to prevent a child from coming to harm while under the supervisor’s watch.
Breach of Duty of Care
A playground supervisor’s duty of care may be breached in many ways. Mere presence on a playground while children are playing will not fulfill a supervisor’s duty, so that a failure to remain attentive, or a failure to intervene to prevent or stop altercations between children, may constitute a breach of the duty of care.
Playground supervisors owe the same duty of care to every child on a playground. Thus, if a playground is large and occupied by a great many children, a school or other owner or operator of a playground that fails to provide for an adequate number of supervisors for a playground of a particular size may be found to have breached its duty of care for that reason. The owner or operator of a playground may also be considered to have breached its duty of care by allowing too many children on a playground at one time.
Injuries Caused by a Breach of Duty of Care
In order to recover in any negligence action, the breach of a defendant’s duty of care must be found to have been a cause of the injuries sustained by a plaintiff. If a child suffers an injury while being adequately supervised, the supervisor will not be liable for the injury that occurred.
Legally Compensable Damages
That a plaintiff has suffered an injury as a result of a breach of a duty of care is not enough; that plaintiff must also show that legally compensable damages resulted from the injury sustained. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can explain the difference between injuries that are legally compensable and those that are not.
If your child has sustained a playground injury as a result of negligent supervision, contact negligent-playground-supervision lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for expert assistance with every aspect of your case.