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Yes it is back to school time. For me as a parent and Florida child injury attorney, turning my kids over from 9-5 to someone else after a long hot Miami summer can seem like a blessing. Yes, I attended open house for my son’s fourth grade class and I marveled at the technological advancements his class had. PowerPoint projectors, smart boards and the class even has its own blog. But what all the parents heard repeatedly from the administration was that a lack of funding was preventing the school from doing this our that. It got me thinking about playground safety and what dangers may lurk, not just for my child, but for the many who leave their children in the hands of the underfunded school boards in our country on a daily basis.

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Our Broward personal injury attorneys recommend that all parents inspect their children’s school playgrounds at least once or twice per school year, especially considering the playground’s surface and equipment. Concrete, asphalt or dirt is still commonly used and, according to the National Program for Playground Safety, nearly 70% of all playground injures are related to falls on hard surfaces. The recommended surfaces are hardwood mulch, pea gravel, sand, rubber mats and rubber tiles.

1. Are there any broken slides or swings?

2. What age groups will be using the equipment at the same time?

3. Any rusted or exposed S-hooks?

4. What is the child-to-supervisor ratio?

5. Who is responsible for maintaining and repairing the playground?

6. Is there a defibrillator nearby and who is trained to operate it?

7. Are children encouraged to apply sunblock when outdoors between 10 AM-3 PM.

8. Are children encouraged to desanitize their hands after returning to class?

For more detailed information download this Playground Safety Report Card.

April 25-29, 2012 is National Playground Safety Week and gives families and schools an opportunity to focus on making playgrounds safer. We are dedicated to keeping children safe and urge all families not to wait till April to inspect, educate and monitor their children about playground safety.

Should a child be injured in Florida due to the negligence of a public school for failing to provide a safe or supervised recess or for faulty or poorly maintained equipment, the family will have to sue a Florida public school pursuant to Florida Statute Section 768.28. Generally speaking this law protects and insulates the School Board from the responsibility of fully compensating an injured child by limiting the amount of the total damages paid, including medical expenses, loss of income, disability and disfigurement to $200,000. Any claim against a Florida school must be made in writing within 3 years of the date of the accident or 2 years in the case of death.

Claimants are also required to provide the agency and Department of Financial Services the injured child’s’ date and place of birth, social security number or federal identification number and list the name, court case number of any amount the child may owe to the state amongst other very specific details. If your child has been injured at a school, it is very important that you seek competent and experience legal assistance to navigate the confusing and tricky statutory compliance of Florida’s Section 768.28.