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By now most parents have heard about the danger of concussions in sports like football and hockey. But parents trying to keep their children safe from head injuries need to be concerned with more than contact sports. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found around 21,000 kids aged 14 and younger suffer traumatic brain injuries including concussions on playgrounds every year.
The study also found that the rate of concussions was rising among children, from 23 out of 100,000 in 2005 to 48 out of 100,000 in 2013. While the CDC isn't sure what's causing the rise in traumatic brain injuries, it is recommending "improved adult supervision, methods to reduce child risk behavior, regular equipment maintenance, and improvements in playground surfaces and environments."
The two pieces of playground equipment most commonly associated with concussions were swing sets and the monkey bars. Considering that even properly constructed playground equipment can be dangerous, poorly designed, assembled, or maintained equipment can increase the injury risk for children.
Playground equipment manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe to play on, and companies can be strictly liable if a person is injured by their product. A piece of playground equipment could be improperly designed, poorly manufactured, or lack proper warnings, leading to dangerous or deadly accidents. The CDC study recommended that playgrounds use soft ground surfaces like wood chips or sand, rather than concrete.
Location, Location, Location
Where a playground is located may also affect legal liability for injuries. If the playground is on school property or in a city park, you could have a premises liability claim against the school or municipality. But suing a government entity is can be more complicated and may require filing a notice of claim first, so that the school or city is on notice that an injury has occurred. (This gives the government entity an opportunity to accept and pay the claim before going to court.) If your claim is ignored or denied, you can then sue the entity in court.
If your child has suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury on a playground, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. Most are happy to consult with you for free.