Can You Sue if Your Child Gets Hurt on a School Playground?
Originally published on March 7, 2022. Updated March 10, 2023.
The school playground is supposed to be a fun and safe place for your child to play, but unfortunately, accidents happen. If your child has been seriously injured on a school playground, it’s important to take action and seek legal advice from a premises liability lawyer who can help determine who is liable for the accident and, if necessary, guide you through the legal process of pursuing a premises liability lawsuit. In this post, we’ll explore how liability works in the case of a playground injury.
Who Is Liable for School Playground Injuries?
If your child was injured on a school playground, you may have reason to sue the school board. A school and its employees have a legal responsibility to protect the students they are responsible for. However, the accident must have occurred during school hours, and you must prove that the teacher on duty failed to provide sufficient supervision.
The playground equipment manufacturer may also be held liable for defects or unsafe design resulting in your child’s injuries.
Accidents on School Playgrounds and Premises Liability
Over 200,000 children under the age of 15 land in the emergency room because of playground injuries every year. Because of how common such injuries are, the law requires schools to protect their students from unsafe conditions on their playgrounds. A premises liability claim involving playground injuries requires you to prove the following:
- The school oversees the property.
- The school failed in its duty of care under the negligence standard.
- Your child was injured in a preventable way.
- The injury is a direct result of the school failing in its duty of care.
For instance, if the school playground has a broken piece of playground equipment, the educational institution is expected to fix it. If an injury occurs because of an equipment defect that is not promptly repaired, the school is considered to have failed to exercise reasonable care.
In this case, the child’s injury was predictable: directly caused by poor maintenance of the playground equipment. These factors support a premises liability claim, and the school system may be held responsible.
Negligent Supervision of Children on School Playgrounds
The schools, teachers, staff, and other personnel who act as temporary guardians have a specific responsibility to keep children safe. They must take reasonable precautions to protect children from danger and have a supervisory system in place.
If a care provider fails to keep those in their care safe and preventable injuries occur as a result, this is a case of negligent supervision. You must prove the following to establish negligence:
- A teacher or employee of the school agreed to supervise your child.
- They failed to take reasonable steps to make sure your child was safe.
- Their inattentiveness contributed to your child’s injury.
Manufacturer Defects in Playground Equipment
The design and manufacturing of products should be safe, based on the intended use and target audience. The products should also include warning signs, instructions, and proper labeling, including age and weight restrictions.
Product manufacturers are subject to liability caused by their products. This means the designer, manufacturer, or seller of the defective playground equipment, or any of its parts, could be held liable for any injuries caused by their products under product liability laws.
A product liability claim is possible if a playground’s equipment poses an unreasonable risk to children.
What About the School’s Immunity from Lawsuits?
Wisconsin considers public school districts to be governmental bodies, like the federal government, state, county, and local governments. Public school districts can assert governmental immunity from lawsuits for negligent conduct committed due to their discretionary decisions or actions.
If a school fails in its ministerial duties to protect students from known dangers, you may bring a claim against the school district. To begin your claim, you must file a Notice of Circumstances and a Notice of Claim within 120 days of the incident.
The maximum amount a person can recover after a lawsuit against a public school is $50,000.
A Wisconsin premises liability lawyer can help you with your claim against the school district. They’ll explain the steps to take after filing your notices against the school.
Hire an Experienced Premises Liability Lawyer
Work with an experienced premises liability attorney from Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers to protect your child’s rights. Our legal team can help you receive the compensation you need to care for your child following a playground accident. Request a free evaluation of your child’s injury claim by contacting our law firm today.