Playground Injury Lawsuits
UPDATED: February 24, 2020
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The answer to who's liable for injuries sustained by a child at a restaurant playground depends on how much your child was at fault, if at all. If he was being reckless in his use of playground equipment and you did not stop him, it is likely that he will not receive damages from the other parties involved or the restaurant. Further, if you were to lose your lawsuit entirely, there is even a chance that you will be liable to the other family on a countersuit, and/or for their attorneys fees as well as your own. However, if your son was playing on the monkey bars in a reasonable way, you will want to examine whether the other child’s actions caused the accident or whether the owner of the restaurant had failed in his duty to provide a safe environment at the restaurant’s playground.
In addition to making the determinations listed above, there is a need to define “fault,” because fault exists both in a lay sense, and in a legal sense. In this situation, it’s the legal definition that we care most about, since it will determine the answer to whether you, the playground, or the other parties involved will be held liable.
Most jurisdictions practice some form of comparative fault (or comparative negligence). Importantly, comparative fault means that when a plaintiff’s negligence plays a role in his or her own injury, s/he cannot recover if that negligence was as much as or more than the defendant’s negligence. Whether it’s “as much” (50%) or “more than” (51%) depends on the jurisdiction. You’ll need to speak to a local, licensed personal injury attorney for a clear answer.
Sometimes, however, accidents simply happen. There is often no clear fault. Perhaps neither boy was playing inappropriately, and the owner of the restaurant had taken all reasonable care in choosing, installing, and maintaining the equipment. If this is the case, you may not have a legitimate case against anyone. A lawsuit filing in this sort of situation would likely be considered frivolous by the court. This would expose you to the risk of court fees and your attorney to the risk of losing his license.
Because this is a complicated matter, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your jurisdiction to discuss your case. An experienced attorney can review the circumstances involved in your claim and determine if a personal injury lawsuit is worth pursuing.