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What are the Legal Rights of a Child Injured During Recess or Free Play at a School, Day Care Center, or Summer Camp?

By Jeremy Vishno, Attorney and  David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

medical_110006043-011314intIn Connecticut and other States, children enjoy running around and playing with friends during recess and free play.  Unfortunately for some children, recess or free play is the site of a serious personal injury.  As a Child Injury Lawyer, I am often asked to evaluate and handle cases involving injuries at schools, day care center, and summer camps.  Some of these injuries take place at recess or free play on the playground or another part of the facility or program.  Commonly, a parent has two concerns about these cases:
1.  How did the injury take place?
2.  How did the staff respond to the incident or injury?
Typically, the facts associated with the first question are more important to the legal claim or case that the facts associated with the second question.   During free play or recess, a child can be injured.   How did the injury take place?  Related questions are include:  Was the incident or injury foreseeability?  What supervision was in place?  Was the injury preventable?  What safety precautions were in place?  What actions (if any) could have been taken to avoid the injury or incident?
As for the second question, how did the staff respond to the incident or injury?  Related questions include:  How timely was the follow up by the staff for the child?  When were the parents contacted?  What medical care was rendered at the facility?  What was the delay (if any) in getting the child the necessary medical care or transport for medical care?  Was an incident report prepared?  Did the delay or actions by the staff after the incident cause or contribute the injuries sustained?  
It is important for child care providers to be alert at all times and pay attention to the children that they are responsible for supervising.   We are surrounded and bombarded by technology in the palm of our hands these days.  While technology is a wonderful tool and form of amusement / entertainment, it also serves as a dangerous distraction for child care providers who should be focusing their attention on the children and not that next text message, Twitter post, or Facebook story.  Mobile phones should be used for communication and that is in.  When supervising children, child care providers should put the phones away to better concentrate on the tasks at hand.
A recent injury in Connecticut is being further investigated. A child suffered a significant fracture at recess.  While the severity of the injuries should have been apparent, the staff merely provided ice and allowed the child to return to the classroom for further instruction and activities. The arm was fractured in two places.  The focus of this news story seemed to be on the response to the injury rather than the cause of the injury.  You can read more about this story at  Officials Investigating Bridgeport Connecticut Recess Injury Suffered by Kindergarten Student. 
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know -has chapters on  School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, Automobile Accidents, and other topics.  You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.