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Public sector providers of play areas, such as councils or schools, have a duty to ensure equipment is fit for purpose and, having conducted a risk assessment, put in place preventative measures to avoid any playground injury due to those identified risks.
Those measures could range from something as simple as age restrictions on the use of certain play equipment to installing rubberised surfaces in areas where a fall might be possible.
Although different legislation covers private providers, such as pubs with children’s play areas or indoor play centres, effectively the same duties and responsibilities as in the public sector apply.
In either case, to make a successful claim you would need to prove negligence on the part of the public or private provider responsible. That should be relatively straightforward in the case of obviously faulty, damaged or poorly maintained play equipment.
If the equipment is considered satisfactory, a successful playground injury claim would then depend on proving the provider failed to take reasonable preventative or precautionary measures to reduce the risk of injury. The provider's risk assessments will be good evidence in such cases.
how do I make a claim about an accident at parks or playgrounds
If you think you have a case for making a playground injury claim contact Access Legal’s specialist lawyers who can give you initial advice, usually without any cost or obligation to use our services.
Anyone under 18 cannot make a claim themselves and although they are the client, an adult (usually a relative) must act as their litigation friend. Their role is to instruct the solicitor and sign legal documents on behalf of the child.
Seeing your child in any sort of pain is very distressing. We will investigate the causes of the accident and work with medical experts to quickly establish your child’s immediate needs and fund any medical treatment by interim payments from the other side. This also allows us to build a case that accurately values the cost of any current and future support your child might require, which could be life-long and expensive if their injuries are severe.
You should report the accident to someone in authority (e.g. local authority parks department) as soon as possible, making sure it is noted in any accident book they may keep. Claiming any prescription costs and travelling expenses is always easier if you keep any receipts as evidence.
If successful, an award is usually paid into the Court Funds Office, where it is held until the child reaches 18 years of age. The money, plus interest, is then released, however it is possible to ask the judge to allow some of the award to be paid straight away if it's needed.
if I have a case about an accident in parks and playgrounds
There are no specific laws applying to parks or playgrounds but several pieces of legislation do cover child injury claims when the cause of the accident is the operator’s a failure to maintain equipment or carry out a risk assessment.
A claim for negligence against a playground owner or operator could for example be made under the Occupiers' Liability Act or if the play equipment used did not comply with various British and European standards.
You would have a case for making a claim about a playground injury if you can prove that the provider was careless and your child was injured in a completely foreseeable way. In this as in all civil cases, the standard of such proof need only be ‘on the balance of probabilities’.
Injury due to decaying or inadequately maintained playground equipment undoubtedly qualifies as foreseeable harm. An operator’s failure to discover and fix the problem would be sufficient basis upon which Access Legal could make a successful claim.
Where children are involved, the courts expect much greater care to be taken by those responsible for safety. That duty of care must be pro-active, protecting the child against a particular accident. Risks must be identified and measures must be taken to eliminate them.
If the operator or provider failed in any of these duties, our team at Access Legal may be able to help you make a claim on behalf of your child.
more about accidents at parks and playgrounds
Despite the concerns of many parents, figures from bodies such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) show most serious injuries involving children over the age of one are a result of accidents in and around the home.
That said, an accident in a park or playground can be particularly distressing because they happen in places where kids are supposed to have fun and are assumed to be safe. A playground injury can result in fractures or broken bones or in the worst cases serious head injuries, which are especially worrying in young children.
In most public parks, the local authority will have primary liability for any injuries caused by faulty play equipment, although in some cases the actual blame may lie with sub-contractors who failed to install the items correctly or left dangerous metal stumps in a playground when removing equipment.
Even if any installation or maintenance work is subcontracted, the duty of care and therefore liability remains with the organisation or body (i.e. the council) which chose to delegate that work. That is also true if the issue is one of supervision.
If, for example, a local authority subcontracts instruction or lifeguard services at a council-run swimming pool to a private provider, should a child suffer an injury because of lack of supervision by those staff members, the council would still have a duty of care to that child.
£20,000 damages for injury due to playground defects
We acted for a youngster who was 10 years old when she fell off a set of monkey bars, suffering a painful radial fracture of her wrist that required surgery to heal properly and left her with permanent scarring.
Read the full Access Legal playground accident case study here.
'You need to have a legal team who are caring, who you absolutely trust and who will tell you the truth. Certainly from our point of view Denise Stephens from Access Legal has been absolutely amazing.'
Our expert child injury lawyers at Access Legal are very familiar with playground accident claims. We'll fight your case with persistence and diligence and treat your child with sensitivity and care.Why Access Legal