Central Indiana weather has seemingly taken an early turn toward Spring this year, allowing students to enjoy recess outdoors more and more. If you have a child attending a public or private school, whether as a preschooler, kindergartner, or fifth-grader, it is very likely that they will be given access to a playground during recess time or after-school programs. With the rise in playground time, accidents and injuries are bound to happen. But what if your child is seriously injured on the playground? Is the school liable for the resulting damages? What if you signed a waiver?
Continue below to learn what you need to know about playground injuries to children and a school’s liability in the matter, plus which Indiana personal injury law firm to contact for further details regarding your unique case.
Playground Injuries at School
Although playground architecture and technology have come a long way since you were a kid, playground manufacturing defects and design errors are still a risk. Determining liability in these kinds of child injury accidents is more straightforward since it is generally the manufacturer or maker of the playground equipment that is responsible. But sometimes, child injury playground accidents occur as a result of a school’s negligence, not the playground manufacturer. In such cases, determining liability is a different process and largely varies from case to case.
A School’s Liability in Playground Accidents
Negligent supervision of a child can occur if teachers or appointed staff are not properly monitoring children who are playing on playground equipment. If the staff did not use reasonable care to ensure the students were protected and safe from foreseeable harm, they can be deemed negligent in a child injury case. For instance, if a teacher assigned to monitor children at recess leaves the students alone to take a bathroom break, and during that break a child is seriously injured because they were using the equipment incorrectly, this could be considered negligent supervision. The school should almost always have more people supervising, especially since there are multiple students to supervise.
Aside from negligent supervision of children, a school’s negligence can cause playground injuries in other ways. One example would be poor or inadequate maintenance of playground equipment. For instance, if the school was aware or should have been aware that a bolt was loose, missing, or rusted out, but fails to correct the hazard, they can be deemed negligent conduct in a tort case if a child suffers injuries because of it. Or, if the school hires an unqualified contractor or company to repair the playground equipment, and an accident occurs due to improper repairs, the school can be considered negligent in the matter.
Virtually all schools, especially those with playgrounds on the premises, require parents and guardians to sign waivers for all registered students. Some schools even require the students to sign or initial these waivers. Such waivers are designed protect a school from any type of legal liability in the case of an accident that happens on school grounds or under the school’s supervision. Although these waivers have legal merit, they are not impenetrable. In similar cases throughout recent history, courts have given such waivers enforceability, but only to a certain extent and if they meet specific criteria.
School waivers might be found not legally binding by a court if they are not clear and explicit in language. If the terms of the waiver are faintly printed, in confusing legal jargon, or hidden in a small paragraph within a massive document, they might also be thrown out by the court. Oppositely, a school waiver might be enforced in the event of a child injury accident if the accident occurred as a result of ordinary negligence, rather than gross negligence.
It is important to consult with a licensed Indianapolis personal injury lawyer about your rights to pursuing legal action after your child was seriously injured at school. They have the knowledge and experience to explain your legal matters in a language you can clearly understand.
Not sure which Indiana law firm to trust with your child injury case? Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free initial case evaluation with a skilled civil litigator about your child injury accident lawsuit in Indianapolis, Indiana. We represent injured persons throughout the state of Indiana.