As a parent, you do not necessarily expect that when you take your child to an environment such as a playground, amusement park or public swimming area, that there could be areas of disrepair or neglect that could cause your child to be injured, be it privately or publically owned. However, this is entirely possible. And, it is not uncommon that children are injured at these types of amusement areas in a variety of ways. Children who are injured as a result of negligence on the part of the park/play area can recover for these injuries via a personal injury claim.
Like any personal injury claim, the following factors must be met:
- Injury must have occurred on the premises
- There must have been some form of negligence by the property owner that contributed to the injury; hence but for the negligence, the injury would not have occurred
- The child must have suffered some form of damages, usually physical injury
The difference between an adult claim for personal injury and a child’s claim is centered around the time frame in which the claim for the injury must be lodged with the Court. In accordance with the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002, an adult must make a claim for personal injury with the Court within 3 years of the occurrence of the injury.
A child, however, has until three years after they reach the age of legal majority ie: 18 years old, plus three years. Therefore, the age for a child to file for a personal injury claim that occurred prior to turning 18 years of age, is 21. However, it is important for legal guardians and/or parents to remember that notice must be given to the property owner much sooner.
Notice to the property owner must occur within 9 months of the child being injured, or within 9 months of the first symptoms of injury
Within 1 month of the parent filing a lawsuit via a solicitor.
There are several types of negligent actions that can result in children being injured on a playground or other type of amusement area. When out at a play area with children be watchful of the following hazards that can cause children to be injured;
- Broken playground equipment
- Slippery surfaces
- Debris such as broken glass, plastic shards, nails or other small sharp objects
- Unstable or weather-beaten surfaces on wooden structures or plastic-based equipment
- Tripping hazards such as uneven playing or walking surfaces
- Exposed springs, hinges or screws that can catch on clothing or shoelaces
If you notice any areas in these states of disrepair, report it to the owner or an employee working in the area. If there is no one in the immediate vicinity to report it to, look for a phone number for park maintenance or a website address and report it as soon as possible.
In the instance that your child is actually injured you should do the following;
- If the injury is severe call for emergency services
- Secure your child away from the immediate area
- Assess the need for immediate medical attention such as an emergency room
- If the situation is not an emergency, take pictures of the area where your child was hurt
- Ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Report the injury to park maintenance or the owner
- Be sure to carefully clean any open wounds
- Consider making a medical appointment with your child’s pediatrician to rule out a more serious injury
- Keep the receipts for any incurred medical costs
- Review the event and the subsequent injuries with a legal professional
It is always hoped that family outings with your children will not result in any child being injured, let alone suffering a serious injury. But in the event that this does happen, be aware of your surroundings and be sure to follow the suggested steps outlined above for your child’s safety and to protect their legal rights.
If you find yourself in need of assistance with this or any other legal issue, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.