Articles Posted in Playground & Recreation Injuries

City-Park-Liability-150x150In the State of Florida, many people are under the mistaken belief that a government entity is immune from civil liability when there is a personal injury or wrongful death that takes place on property maintained, controlled, and / or owned by a government entity.   If a government entity or an agent / employee of a government entity is negligent or careless, a civil case or claim can be brought against the government entity to seek compensation for the personal injuries, wrongful death, and related damages.  It should be noted that civil cases or claims against a government entity in the State of Florida are handled or treated differently than cases against private individuals, privately owned businesses, and publicly held businesses or corporations like Wal-Mart, Disney World, and other entities.

When an adult or child is injured as a result of the negligence of a government entity, the rules, policies, notices, and restrictions set forth in Section 728.28, Florida Statutes apply.   This statute is known as the “Sovereign Immunity” statute.  The name is a bit misleading. The word “Sovereign” refers to a government entity.  The word “Immunity” typically refers to a shield against liability or responsibility.  As such, the term “Sovereign Immunity” is a bit misleading.  The truth is that a government entity in the State of Florida can and should be held legally liable and financially responsible for injuries that result from careless or negligent acts.  The statute does restrict the amount that can be recovered to $200,000 per incident or $300,000 per incident.  An injury victim or the family of the injury victim can collect more than the amount limited by statute but only by the passage of a Claims Bill before the Florida legislature and ultimately signed off by the Governor.  Claims Bills are very difficult to pursue and get passed.  As such, the majority of claims against government entities in the State of Florida result in compensation at or below the caps as set forth in the Florida Statute on point.

In Jacksonville, Florida, it was reported that a 3 year old boy – Amari Harley – died as a result of a drowning in a septic tank area as part of a City of Jacksonville park – Bruce Park.  The medical technical cause of death was reported as asphyxia due to inhaling septic tank contents.  While there have been a number of news reports on the tragic death of this young child, there have been no reports as to how this small child was able to get into or fall into the septic tank area.  City officials and other landowners should be well aware of the presence of children in a park area and the dangers of septic tank areas like the ones present at Bruce Park.

Swing-Set-150x150Swing sets are commonly placed, seen, and maintained on playgrounds.  When a child is injured during the use of swings on a playground, there may be liability or responsibilities on the part off the city, school, day care center, and / or owner of the property where the swing set is located.  There should be a distinction made between a person, business, or other entity who / that is the supervisor of children and a person, business, or other entity who / that is the owner of the property where the playground / swing set is located.
Supervision of Children
When a child is under the care and supervision of a school, day care center, summer camp, or other program, it is important that reasonable and necessary care be provided to the child.  Playground equipment and play should be age appropriate. Furthermore, children should be supervised in a reasonably careful manner.  Rough or dangerous play should be stopped immediately.  Swings are a known hazard for those playing around the swings and for those children on the swings.  As such, child care providers and supervisors should be on the look out for dangerous play that may result in personal injuries including injuries related to strangulation during playground use.  If a child while using swings is twisting and turning around, a child care provider should immediately step in as this is not the proper or safe use of the swing set.  If the dangerous play continues, the child care provider should promptly remove the child from the swing set area.

Law-Book-150x150
A death that shook a family, neighborhood, and community is still under investigation according to a recent news report. Amari Harley, age 3, died on October 22 after getting stuck in a city septic tank system at a City of Jacksonville (Duval County) park.  The death certificate listed “accidental drowning” as the cause of death.  This means, that following the autopsy, it was determined that the drowning was the cause of the death rather than some other cause like a stroke, heart attack, or some kind of unknown or previously undiagnosed congenital medical condition.  While the cause of death has been established, the preventability and safety measures surrounding this incident are still under investigation.
This raises the question as to whether the City of Jacksonville should be held liable for the death of this child.  In other words, is the City of Jacksonville legally liable for this “accidental drowning”?  When evaluating a legal case involving a personal injury, research is often conducted by an attorney in form of a review of allocable laws, statutes, ordinances, and case law.  It is important that there is legal precedence or authority to pursue a case or claim on behalf of the injured child and the family.  There are essentially four elements associated with a negligence case or claim as follows:
1 – Duty;

Scales-of-Justice-Yellow-and-Blue-150x150In the State of Florida, a property owner or landowner whether a private person, business, or government entity has a duty to maintain the premises under the property owner’s control in a reasonably safe manner. The is especially important for areas in which children are present.  It is well known that children, especially toddlers, are curious and will often wander into areas that are not built for the play or presence of children. For instance, it is important for property owners and landowners to fence off hazardous areas including those related to waterways, electrical equipment, steep areas, and any other areas in which a child may get stuck, trapped, or otherwise injured.
Septic or lift stations for restroom sewage can be commonly be seen in many Florida communities.  It is vital that the lids to septic or lift stations are safely secured and in place.  If there is any risk that a young child can remove the lid or slip through the lid into the hole into the ground or the septic area, a child can be at significant risk for drowning.  There are a number of causes for covers to be damages, unsecured, and out of place.  When this happens, it is important for a property owner to take swift action to seal off the area, and repair or replace the lid.
Attractive Nuisance is a legal concept in which applies to situation in which a child is lawfully on property or even trespassing on the premises. If the child is injured by an area or object that is likely to attract children, a property owner or landowner can be held liable if it can be shown that the property owner or landowner knew or should have known about the attractive nuisance but failed to take action to fix the problem, secure the dangerous area, or remove the danger area / problem from the premises.

Ferris Wheel - Amusement Park InjuriesFlorida is a tourist destintation in part because of the warm weather, beaches, and, yes the variety of theme parks including but not limited to Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Lego Land.  When a person is injured at a Florida theme park, there are many questions, issues, and challenges that arise.  Believe me, the theme park managers and workers are well aware of the risk of injury to guests. In addition, the managers and workers have been trained and instructed as to the potential for lawsuits and insurance claims from these incidents.  If an incident report is prepared, there is no duty that the theme park provide the guest a copy.  Furthermore, the preparation of the incident report is not to make the claim easier for the guest but to document the circumstances of the incident especially the actions by the staff to defend the case in the future if a claim or lawsuit is pursued by the guest.   Here are the four basic elements that need to be proved to establish a case or claim against a Florida theme park:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;

Resort - Beach - Personal InjuriesFlorida is a well known tourist destination for parents, children, and families across the nation as well as the rest of the world. After all, we have Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and, yes, Lego Land. In addition to these well known attractions and theme parks, we have beaches and coast line in all part of Florida including the Panhandle, Florida Keys, and elsewhere.  For most vacationers, the time spent in Florida is quite enjoyable.  For some, the worst that happens on a trip to Florida is a bit of sunburn and mild exhaustion from all of the sites to see and visit. For others, the Florida vacation marks the time in which a child or another friend or family member suffers a serious personal injury.  For some, Florida marks the spot where a person dies as a result of the negligence or carelessness of another person, business, or government entity.
When a person is visiting from another state or country, where should the case or claim be filed if the incident takes place in the State of Florida?  The typical answer to this question is the State of Florida.  If an accident or incident takes place in the State of Florida, a claim or case can be brought because of Florida laws allows for the pursuit of a claim or case regardless of residency in or outside of Florida.   Jurisdiction would be proper for the following types of cases:  automobile accident, playground injury, premises liability case, slip and fall, pedestrian accidents, and other types of incidents.
It should be noted that the laws related to the rights of compensation vary from State to State and can even vary from the type of case pursued.  The personal injury related laws in the State of Florida can be quite restrictive.  There are notice provisions for certain cases and all personal injury cases are subject to one or more statute of limitations.  Because of the complexity of Florida law, a parent should contact a Florida Child Injury Lawyer for advice, guidance, and legal representation to advocate for the best interests of the child and to secure the rightful compensation on behalf of the injured child.

106-1113tm-vector2-2936Trampolines can provide hours of enjoyment and exercise to children.  Unfortunate, a trampoline can also be the site or location of a serious personal injury to a child.   There are three major reasons why children are injured while playing on a trampoline:
1.  Improper Maintenance / Repair of the Trampoline.
There are far too many homeowners, summer camps, schools, and day care centers with trampolines that are older and / or without proper safety measures and equipment.   Many trampolines lack side netting and barriers.  Alternatively, the side netting or barrier is in place but in disrepair.  There are also trampolines in use and available for play with issues with the legs or footing of the trampoline.  Some have missing springs and holes in certain areas.   When a trampoline is not properly maintained, children can be harmed even during simple light use.

Personal Injury ClaimsPlaygrounds are places where children can explore and interact with their friends. On most days and for most children, a playground is a wonderful for a child to be active and use his or her imagination while having fun with friends.  . Unfortunately for some children, a playground can be the site of a serious personal injury. If the injury results from the improper maintenance of the playground AND / OR the improper supervision by child care provider, friend,  neighbor, or relative, there could be a plate case or claim pursued on behalf of the injured child.As a Florida Child Injury Lawyer handling cases throughout the State Florida, the issue of damages is present in every case.  Essentially, what is a case worth? What should the settlement value be?  Should the case proceed to trial?  These are excellent and common questions.
It should be noted that thereare essentially two parts of each personal injury case whether the incident involves a playground injury, day care center abuse / neglect, or an automobile accident.  The two major parts of each personal injury cases on behalf of the injured are as follows:
1. Liability; and

Happy little girl looking at camera while swinging on playground area

Playground Injuries

During the summer months and the rest of the year, children enjoy the fun and adventure of spending time on a playground.  Whether it is at the day care center, school, summer camp, or public park, a playground can provide hours of entertainment and activity for children – especially toddlers and pre-schools. Of course, elementary aged children also enjoy going to the playground but as they grow older – the playground loses some of its luster to these children.   For the children who still love to go to the playground, there is great fun but also a risk of injury any time that a child spends time on a playground.

During the summer months, a child can get injured on a playground in a number of ways. One such way is being burned by the hot ground or hot playground equipment.  While a playground owner / operator / supervision cannot do much about the weather, safety precautions can be taken on the playground itself by making the sure that the equipment is made with materials and coating that protects the children and that the ground cover is made of materials that also protect the children in a reasonable manner. 

Play Time Written In Multicolored Plastic Kids Letters

Play Time at Day Care Centers, Schools, and Summer Camp

At most playgrounds, it is common to see a slide.  Children often enjoy playing on playgrounds and especially the joy and thrill of climbing up a slide and then sliding down.  If the slide is age appropriate and used correctly, most injuries from playground slides are avoided.   This also assumes that there is sufficient and reasonable supervision in place for all of the children on the playground including but not limited to the slide area – ladder, levels, slide, and landing.  Unfortunately, for some children, the playground slide is the location of a serious personal injury.   When a child is injured on a playground, the day care center, summer camp, property owner, school, or city / county entity may be liable for the resulting injuries and damages.   The liability or responsibility will depend on the ability to prove the four essential elements of a civil case or claim:

1. Duty;