Whether your child is new to daycare, kindergarten, or a seasoned fourth or fifth grader, they are likely to be spending some time in the playground. And while playground equipment has made some great strides in safety before the old metal bars and carousels of our youth, any type of game carries some risk of injury.
Just as every school has a playground, parents and students have to sign disclaimers at the beginning of the school year in almost every school. These exemptions are often intended to protect schools from any legal liability if a child is injured in school. But are they enforceable? And does that mean you can never complain if your child is injured in the playground?
Waive the right to sue?
Most courts have found that disclaimers are enforceable, but only if they meet certain criteria and only to a limited extent. First, the student injury exemptions must be clear, unambiguous, and unambiguous in their terms. Exceptions that are printed in faint or small type or in an inconspicuous place such as those hidden in a large document are therefore less likely to be enforceable.
Second, injuries waivers limit the school’s liability only for injuries resulting from ordinary negligence and generally do not prevent parents from suing injuries resulting from gross negligence, recklessness, willful acts, or illegal acts by school staff or others Students are based. What does all this legal jargon mean?
“Negligence” is generally defined as the failure to use reasonable care to cause harm to oneself or others. For example, if a teacher inspects playground equipment and fails to notice that a bolt on a swing is loose, it is usually considered normal negligence. Gross negligence or recklessness, on the other hand, refers to a lack of care or an extreme deviation from what a reasonably cautious person would do in the same situation in order to harm himself or others. If school staff didn’t bother to inspect the playground equipment in the first place, or worse, saw the bolt loose and did nothing, a jury could find the school liable despite the waiver. The same applies if school staff or students intentionally injure your child.
To sue the right party?
Most courts recognize the general duty of schools, administrators, and teachers to adequately supervise the students in their care, and some have established that schools must provide students with adequate instruction, equipment, and non-negligent supervision. If your child is injured in a school playground and the staff has not properly monitored the room or your child, you may be able to file an infringement lawsuit against the school.
In addition, manufacturers can be held liable if faulty playground equipment leads to injuries. Manufacturers have a general responsibility to ensure the safety of their products and may be strictly liable for injuries caused by their product.
To find out if a school violation waiver is enforceable (or if you even need to sign one), or if a school might be liable for your child’s playground injury, speak to a skilled personal injury attorney about your case.
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