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Accidents and Injuries at School: Who is Accountable?

If your child is injured at school, who might be liable? Does it matter whether it was a private or public school, for purposes of pursuing a lawsuit?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for a traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion.

Playground Accidents and Injuries: Common Causes
– Poor maintenance or design of school playground equipment
– Lack of adequate supervision

70% of all School Injuries Occur During Recess or Physical Education.
A review of injury data has revealed that the lack of proper supervision is considered a “contributing factor in playground injuries over 40% of the time”.
– Occurrence and Consequences of Playground-Related Injuries
– All Emergency Department-Treated, Playground-Related Injuries
– About 56% of playground-related injuries that are treated in ERs are fractures and contusions/abrasions.
– About 75% of injuries related to playground equipment occur on public playgrounds. Most occur at a place of recreation or school.

Playground-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
– The overall rate of Emergency room (ER) visits for playground-related TBI has significantly increased in recent years (2005-2013).
– About two-thirds of playground-related TBIs occurred at school and places or recreation or sports and often involved monkey bars, climbing equipment, or swings.
– Most ER visits for playground-related TBIs occur during weekdays, Monday through Friday.
– Playground-related TBI ER visits occurred frequently during the months of April, May, and September.

Can a School District Be Sued for Injuries to Students at School During School Hours?

In evaluating a case involving a public or even a private school, two essential questions are addressed as follows:

1. Was the incident / accident foreseeable in nature to the school and / or its staff?

2. Was the incident / accident preventable with better supervision, maintenance, or other reasonable and necessary acts on the part of the school and / or its staff?

What Can Be Done?
Take steps to keep kids safe by:
• Checking that playgrounds have soft material under them such as wood chips, sand, or mulch.
• Reading playground signs and using playground equipment that is right for your child’s age.
• Making sure there are guardrails in good condition to help prevent falls.
• Looking out for things in the play area that can trip your child, like tree stumps or rocks.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If your child has been seriously injured at school, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit


Playground Liability: Accident or Injury