A playground should be a safe place for children. It should have safety-approved equipment, well-maintained grounds and adequate child supervision. A playground should not contain hazards or defects that pose undue risks to children. Although some playground injuries arise from typical child’s play, other child injuries result from property or equipment defects. Compensation may be available for some of the most common playground injuries depending on the cause of the accident.
About 56% of playground injuries that require hospitalization are fractures and abrasions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children’s bones are softer than adults.’ They often bend and splinter before they break (greenstick fracture). Broken bones for a child can be painful and take weeks or months to heal. They may interfere with a child’s proper physical development. Bone fractures can happen on a playground due to falls, getting caught-in or between playground equipment, and sports incidents. A properly maintained playground with updated equipment can help prevent falls, while soft and safe ground materials can cushion a child’s fall and prevent the most serious injuries.
Head and Brain Injuries
Another common fall-related playground injury is a head or brain injury. The number of emergency room visits for playground brain injuries has dramatically increased in the last decade. A child could fall and strike his or her head on playground equipment or the ground surface due to dangerous or faulty structures. Poorly constructed or maintained equipment could increase the risk of serious fall accidents on a playground. Inadequate supervision can also lead to falls and head injuries. A child climbing where he or she should not be, such as on top of a structure, for example, could lead to a serious fall and a traumatic brain injury.
A child could suffer a soft-tissue injury such as a torn muscle, sprain or dislocation on a playground due to rough play and lack of child supervision. If the playground equipment is poorly maintained or old, it could have issues that lead to soft-tissue injuries. Wood rot could cause a playground structure to collapse, for example, or ropes could grow frail and cause a fall injury. Slippery or dangerous surfaces could also cause slip and fall accidents with accompanying soft-tissue damage.
Cuts, Scrapes and Lacerations
Unsafe, old or broken playground equipment can lead to severe lacerations for a child. Rusty or jagged metal on a slide, for instance, could badly injure a child and expose him or her to risks of complications such as infections or tetanus. Bad lacerations can also require sutures and cause permanent scars. Other risks can include exposed screws, loose bolts, protruding nails, sharp edges and dangerous sticks on the ground. It is the owner of the playground’s legal responsibility to inspect equipment and the grounds for laceration hazards before opening it to children.
Strangulation and Entrapment
One of the most dangerous risks children face on unsafe playgrounds is that of strangulation. During a Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation of fatal playground accidents, it found 68% of the children died from strangulation. Strangulation can occur on rope structures and swings. Play equipment such as jump ropes can also lead to child strangulation. Entrapment is another significant risk on a playground. A child could receive a serious entrapment injury if the playground has design or manufacturing defects that allow the child to get stuck, crushed or pinched between equipment.
Who Is Liable for a Playground Injury?
Playground injuries can be extremely serious and even fatal for victims. The parents of a severely injured child may be able to bring a lawsuit against one or multiple parties for the playground accident in Nebraska. The liable party might be the school or city in charge of playground maintenance if equipment disrepair caused the injury. A school or organization could also be liable if guilty of poor playground supervision. In other cases, the manufacturer of the playground equipment could be liable for dangerous product defects. The manufacturer has a responsibility to design and create reasonably safe equipment. A playground injury lawyer in Omaha can help parents understand their rights after serious accidents.
A property owner’s duties of care in Nebraska change according to the type of visitor. An invitee receives the highest standards of care, while a licensee receives slightly less. A trespasser, on the other hand, does not lawfully have the right to expect any duties of care from a landowner. If you own property in Nebraska where a trespasser suffered an injury, in most cases, the trespasser cannot hold you liable for damages. Important exceptions to the rule exist, however. To learn more about how to deal with an injured trespasser, contact our premises liability attorney in Omaha.
You Intentionally Injured the Trespasser
If you were unaware the trespasser was on your land without permission, the only duty of care you owe him or her is not to act in a willful, reckless or wanton manner to injure the trespasser. You do not have a duty to maintain a safe premises, but you do have a duty not to cause an intentional injury to a trespasser that does not appear to pose a threat. Acting in self-defense is a plausible justification for causing a trespasser an injury, and you likely would not be liable for damages in this situation.
Your duties of care change, however, when you become aware of the trespasser on your property. You must treat a discovered trespasser with ordinary care. This includes protecting the trespasser from a foreseeable hazard, such as a hole on your property or an aggressive dog. If you fail to warn the trespasser about the hazard and he or she suffers an injury as a result, you could potentially be liable for his or her damages, even if the trespasser did not have your permission to be on the property.
The Trespasser Is Under 18
Your duties of care are also different toward trespassers who are under the age of 18. Child trespassers deserve the same degree of care as invitees on your property in the eyes of the law. Your duties will include maintaining a safe premises, checking for hidden hazards, repairing known defects and warning of foreseeable risks. You must, therefore, take steps to reasonably prevent injuries to children who may trespass on your property – namely by putting barriers around attractive nuisances.
An attractive nuisance is a dangerous property element that is inherently attractive to children, such as a swimming pool, trampoline, old well, antique car, heavy machinery or farm animals. By putting an attractive nuisance on your property, you take on added responsibilities to keep trespassing children safe from potential related dangers. The law will expect you to take reasonable steps toward preventing foreseeable injuries, such as placing a fence around a swimming pool. If you fail to do so, you will most likely end up liable for a child’s injuries, even if that child was trespassing.
You Failed to Control Your Dangerous Dog
Cases involving known dangerous dogs are also unique. A dangerous dog according to Nebraska Revised Statute 54-617 is one with a record by an animal control authority stating that it has killed a person, inflicted a serious injury (one requiring medical treatment) on a person, killed a domestic animal or has previously achieved dangerous dog status by another animal control authority. Owners of dangerous dogs have greater duties of care to protect the public than typical pet owners. This includes keeping the dog on a leash in public places and not moving the dog out of the county.
If the trespasser on your property suffered a serious injury in a dog attack, and animal control has previously designated your dog as dangerous, you could be liable for the damages. You may have to pay for the trespasser’s medical bills and other losses if an investigation finds that you were negligent in the control of the dangerous dog under the state’s related laws. In most cases, you will be liable for any damages your pet causes if you knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities but failed to take proper precautionary measures.
Premises liability claims involving injured trespassers are complex. If you need help refuting liability for a trespasser’s injuries on your property, speak to an attorney in Omaha.
Any car accident can be frightening; even minor accidents with insignificant property damage. A minor accident can still have enough force to inflict serious harm to occupants. Unfortunately, insurance companies can make it more difficult to recover compensation for low-impact car accidents, even if you suffered serious or life-changing injuries. You may need a car accident attorney in Omaha to help you work through your claim and go up against insurance companies on your behalf.
Common Injuries in Low-Impact Crashes
Thousands of car accidents in Nebraska each year are low impact, meaning the vehicle was traveling under 10 miles per hour. The gravitational forces in an accident – even while traveling at a low speed – can still be enough to cause injuries to the vehicle’s occupants. In every car accident, three collisions happen – the vehicular collision, the human collision, and the internal collision. The human collision refers to the occupant’s body connecting with objects inside the vehicle. The internal collision is the organs impacting other organs or the skeletal frame.
A low-impact crash can still impart enough kinetic force into vehicle occupants to cause significant human and internal collisions. The occupants will accelerate faster than the vehicle, leading to them absorbing most of the force of the impact. This can cause injuries such as blunt force trauma, bruises, contusions, concussions, and lacerations. If a low-impact crash is enough to whip the victim’s upper body forward and backward, he or she could also suffer serious neck and back injuries.
The spine is a sensitive part of the body that is prone to serious injuries in auto accidents of all calibers. One of the most common and potentially serious low-impact crash injuries is whiplash. Whiplash is the straining or injuring of the tendons and ligaments of the neck. The soft tissues of the neck often cannot withstand the forces of a low-impact accident. Whiplash generally occurs when the head and neck rapidly move back and forth due to the impact of a collision. Rear-end car accidents most commonly produce impact forces that injure the occupant’s neck.
Do You Need a Lawyer After a Low-Impact Accident?
Car accident attorneys do not only represent victims of serious, high-speed or deadly collisions. They represent victims of crashes of all kinds, including people injured in low-impact collisions. You might need a lawyer’s assistance after a low-speed accident if you suffered a personal injury such as whiplash, a back injury, slipped disk, pulled muscle or torn ligament. These are potentially serious injuries that could cause chronic pain and long-term disabilities. They are the types of injuries that deserve attention from attorneys.
If you had a preexisting injury a low-impact accident worsened, you may need a lawyer’s help for insurance negotiations. Insurance companies often try to deny claims involving preexisting injuries, when in reality the party that caused the accident should be responsible for all your related losses – including the exacerbation of a preexisting condition. Do not let an insurance company convince you that a preexisting injury will negatively affect your claim. Use a lawyer to negotiate a fair and full compensatory award despite preexisting conditions and/or the low impact of the crash. The same rule applies to cases involving vulnerable parties such as children or the elderly.
Another reason to hire an attorney is for proof of injury. An auto insurance company will ask for proof that you sustained the injuries you are claiming to have suffered. Since low-impact accidents can injure the soft tissues, injuries may not appear on imaging scans or x-rays. This can make it more difficult to obtain proof of your injuries to show to an insurance provider. If you hire an attorney, he or she could help you prove your case through means such as medical documents, expert witnesses, testimony from your family members and crash reconstruction. Using a lawyer to navigate your low-impact crash claim could ensure you do not settle for less than your injuries are worth.
No parent should expect a child to go his or her entire childhood without a single injury. Parents should not, however, have to anticipate the risk of severe or life-threatening injuries – especially while at school. Sadly, not every school in Nebraska takes its responsibilities over student safety seriously. Negligence, carelessness and unsafe premises can cause serious student injuries. If your child suffered an injury at school, learn your rights as a parent. Your family may be eligible for a damage award if the school or a staff member should have prevented the accident. Filing a claim with the help of an Omaha child injury attorney could also shed light on dangerous practices at your child’s school, pushing for a change.
School Injuries That May Lead to Lawsuits
Although it is normal for kids to get the occasional bump or bruise, coming home with a bone fracture or head injury is cause for concern. Schools and their staff members should take reasonable care to prevent serious and unusual child injuries. Failure to do so could yield the opportunity for a student to suffer many different types of serious injuries.
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Muscle sprains
- Skull fractures
- Slip, trip and fall accidents
- Soft-tissue injuries
Injuries at school can stem from normal child’s play…or something more sinister. Negligence could have caused your child’s injury if it happened because of dangerous playground equipment, lack of child supervision or crime such as child abuse. The school or school district could be liable in these situations.
Determining a School’s Liability in Omaha
As a parent, you may have grounds to file an injury lawsuit on your child’s behalf against a school in Omaha if it was negligent in preventing the accident. Negligence refers to a breach of duty of care. All schools owe a duty to reasonably prevent student injuries and deaths. This duty of care entails many actions and behaviors schools and their staff members should follow to minimize the risk of student injury. Any breach of this duty could expose the school to liability for a child’s serious injuries or death.
- Short staffing
- Lack of child supervision
- Unkempt school grounds
- Poorly maintained playground or equipment
- Lack of safe hiring procedures
- Negligent teacher training
- Lack of school inspections
- Dangerous parking lots
- Inadequate school security
- Unsafe bus drivers
If a prudent school in Omaha would have acted differently under the same circumstances, your child’s school could be liable for your damages. Your injury lawyer will need to prove that the school should reasonably have done more to prevent your child’s injury. Proving negligence may take a full investigation of the accident, along with gathering evidence and speaking to witnesses who saw your child’s incident. A lawyer can help you with this burden of proof.
Is a Public School Immune?
No, public schools in Nebraska are not immune to accident liability. Although the sovereign immunity rule protects most government entities from liability, it does not apply to situations in which the government or one of its agents was negligent in causing or contributing to the accident. If your child’s public school or one of its employees contributed to your child’s injuries, you may use the state’s Tort Claims Act to bring a lawsuit.
If you wish to bring a claim against a public school, you will need to file a claim with all pertinent information regarding your case to the Office of Risk Management in Lincoln, Nebraska. You or your lawyer will need to include the total amount of the claim, place of occurrence, insurance information and relevant known facts regarding the injury claim. If your case is worth more than $5,000, you or your attorney will need to attend a hearing. Hiring a lawyer can help you go up against your child’s school in pursuit of fair financial recovery in Omaha.