Common Places Where Child Accidents Happen  

by Pool Builders on 05-13-2011 in Articles

Apart from their natural love of mischief and risky endeavours, children are more likely to injure themselves than adults due to the relative weakness of their bodies and bones. Estimates show that around 2 million children are admitted to hospital in the UK every year, half for injuries that have occurred outside of their home. Roughly a fifth of accidents involving children take place at schools and nurseries, while thousands of children are injured annually in road traffic accidents and in public places. As any parent will know the emotional fall out from a child's injury is often intense for all those concerned, but especially for the child involved. They may withdraw into themselves following an injury, and lose the confidence to engage with teachers and other children. This is usually due to the shock of the injury, which punctures a child's otherwise naive and innocent view of their surroundings.

Slips, trips and falls account for the majority of injuries sustained by children when they are not at home. Because children often blindly rush around when enjoying themselves, they are far more likely to get injured by obstacles, obstructions and hazards in their path than adults. This may be broken glass in a playground, a pot hole in a car park, or damaged tiling at a swimming pool. Climbing frames, water slides, bouncy castles and theme park attractions may all be in a defective state, and may cause a child using them to fall off and injure themselves. When out shopping with parents at the supermarket a child may fall over discarded pallets, slip on spilled dairy products, or have large cans fall from shelves onto them. Discarded cleaning fluids and frayed carpeting at shops and stores may also present a danger to visiting children. Owners and occupiers of premises open to the public have a legal responsibility to keep their premises well maintained, and free from hazards which may cause children to fall and injure themselves.

A further danger to children arises when they are not properly supervised during games and activities, often a particular problem in schools. These institutions may suffer periodic staff shortages, or else the activity itself may be inherently dangerous, and as such have been poorly planned by the school or its staff. At swimming pools it is essential that trained lifeguards are present when children are swimming, with at least one guard for every fifty swimmers. Riding schools must take care to ensure their pupils are properly instructed, and not provided with a horse that has a history of behavioural problems. In legal terms teachers, and all those supervising children, should act 'in loco parentis', i.e. in the place of the parent.This extends to monitoring the risk posed to a child by other children, including bullying, physical violence or dangerous behaviour such as running and jumping into swimming pools. Schools must ensure both that they have an adequate number of staff on duty, and that those staff are trained and competent to perform their role of protecting their charges.

Public premises, including schools and shops, visited by children will be held legally responsible if injuries are the result of negligence on the part of management or staff. This is the reason why the owners or occupiers are obliged to hold public liability insurance to deal with the possibility of a compensation claim being made against them. A child under the age of 18 will be a 'protected party' in the eyes of the law, as they will not be deemed suitably mature to conduct proceedings. Children under 18 are therefore represented by a 'litigation friend', normally a parent or guardian, who will bring the compensation claim on behalf of the injured child. Damages awarded will then be paid into the court funds office, and held there until the child has reached the age of 18. One additional important factor is that the 3 year statutory time limit for bringing a compensation claim does not begin until the age of 18, and an adult may therefore launch a claim at any point up until their 21st birthday for injuries they sustained during their childhood.

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