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The Hardest Part of Proving a Playground Injury Case Under New York Law

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Jonathan Cooper
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It is undeniable that one of the saddest things we see is a child that is injured on a playground; after all, we want to encourage the children to engage in healthy outdoor physical activities, and this can put a real damper on it. True, sometimes accidents just happen. On the other hand, there are times that these playground injuries are preventable, and a school's failure to prevent them can be attributed to negligence.

But, as noted in our article "Why Many (If Not Most) NY Playground Accident Lawsuits Are Dismissed," these cases are generally very tough to win. Leaving aside the issue of the safety of the equipment involved (which is usually not the chief culprit in causing a child's playground injury), the toughest part of these cases is proving one thing (and this is where most schoolyard injury cases fail):

That the injury wouldn't have occurred if there was adequate supervision at that time.

Please don't need to take my word for it. Instead, consider the matter-of-fact language used by one of New York's appellate courts in dismissing a school negligence case last year in Troiani v. White Plains City School District:

"Here, the defendants established their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law dismissing the complaint. They demonstrated that they provided adequate supervision during recess and, in any event, that the accident occurred in such a manner that it could not reasonably have been prevented by closer monitoring, thereby negating any alleged lack of supervision as the proximate cause of the infant plaintiff's injuries (see Weinblatt v Eastchester Union Free School Dist., 303 AD2d 581 [2003];Berdecia v City of New York, 289 AD2d 354 [2001]; Navarra v Lynbrook Pub. Schools, Lynbrook Union Free School Dist., 289 AD2d 211 [2001]; Lopez v Freeport Union Free School Dist., 288 AD2d 355 [2001])."

In sum, this evidentiary hurdle is not insignificant by any means.


Category: School Negligence / Personal Injury

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer

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