Studies reveal that thousands of children are hospitalised for playground injuries each year. Children aged 5 to 9 years face the highest risk of injury and climbing apparatus and trampolines were the most common mechanisms of injury.
Common playground injuries
A variety of injuries are commonly sustained by children on playground apparatus ranging from minor to severe:
Minor injuries: cuts, bruises, abrasions, muscular sprains and strains, soft tissue injuries
Serious injuries: dislocations, fractures, internal injuries, strangulations, eye and head trauma
Most injuries result from one of the below mechanisms of injury
Slips trips and falls: Elevated sections of rubber flooring, accumulations of debris or sand, protruding screws and nails, rocks and litter provide common trip hazards. Wet plastic or wooden surfaces can cause slips and shoes and laces can get caught in equipment and in drains or potholes.
Child on child injuries: Collisions, altercations and attacks between children can result in falls from equipment, bites, bruises, scratches and head injuries.
Poorly maintained equipment: Structures and equipment that are exposed to the weather can become fragile over time and potentially fail during use. Plastic can crack and splinter, while wood can rot away exposing screws and posing structural damage. Spring and hinge components may break causing moving equipment to behave differently to what is expected.
Claiming Compensation for Playground Injuries
Playground operators must take reasonable care to inspect and maintain the infrastructure, equipment and surfaces of designated play areas to make sure children are safe. This includes taking steps to repair broken components and eliminate dangerous conditions which could expose children to injury. Failing to do this may constitute negligence meaning they will be liable for any damage that results.
You will be entitled to compensation if your child was injured because of a playground operator’s negligence or carelessness. Simply sustaining an injury at a playground in the absence of negligence, will not automatically entitle you to compensation.
Examples: Johnny is swinging upside down on the monkey bars at a public playground when the bar he is hanging from snaps and he falls on his head sustaining severe spinal injuries. Johnny may be entitled to compensation from the local council for failing to inspect and maintain the monkey bars.
Jenny is climbing on the jungle gym at a local playground while wearing slippery soled shoes. She loses her footing and falls to the ground fracturing her arm. Jenny has no grounds to make a claim against the playground operators as her injuries did not result from negligence on their part.
What to do if your child is injured at a playground
Seek medical attention for your child as soon as possible. Not only is it important that they obtain immediate treatment for their injuries, but having a medical professional examine and record details of their injuries will provide necessary evidence of the injuries in the event you wish to make a claim.
Take photographs and videos of the components or condition which caused the incident: This should be done as soon as possible, as operators will act quickly to rectify a dangerous condition once they learn of it. Take lots of photos from different angles to clearly show the dangerous condition and ensure the correct time and date stamp on photographs is used.
Obtain contact details of witnesses: Independent witnesses can provide valuable evidence of what occurred, how your child’s injury was caused and the extent of the injury. Where possible, have witnesses provide a signed and dated written statement.
Paramedic and/or police reports: If the injuries are sufficient to require attendance of an ambulance, police or other authorities, point out to them the cause of the injuries and any unsafe conditions that contributed to the accident. Be sure to obtain a copy of their reports.
Medical bills and other damages: Compensation for medical injuries is largely based on your out-of-pocket expenses, so keep all invoices, bills and receipts for the costs you incur in relation to your child’s medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Seek legal advice: If your child’s injury will cause permanent physical scars or limitations or will require extensive medical treatment, speak with a lawyer about your rights to compensation.
Reporting an Incident
If you notice faulty equipment, failing structures or other unsafe conditions in a playground, its important that you report it to the relevant authorities as soon as possible to ensure no further injuries are sustained and the responsible entity is put on notice.
Safety issues at public playgrounds should be reported to the local council. If you are concerned about a playground operated by a private business such as fast food restaurant, raise it directly with the business.
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Last update on:
June 28, 2018
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.