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Personal Injury Liability: Public Parks

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Can Local Governments Be Held Liable for Injuries That Occur in Public Parks?

The majority of states consider public parks to be part of the local government's job of promoting the health and welfare of the general public. As a result, these states consider public parks to be a government activity, which prevents liability for any injuries that occur on the premises.

Federal, state, and local government entities protect themselves from personal injury claims through sovereign immunity. Under this immunity, the government cannot be held liable for injuries on public property. However, some states have created laws that allow people to bring a claim against the state or city for personal injuries that occur on public property such as a park.

Can State Laws Affect a Local Government's Liability for Injuries in Public Parks?

Many states have specific laws in place that make local governments liable for injuries in public parks due to negligence. This is even true for some states that consider public parks to be a government activity. Federal, state, and local government have a duty to make the government safe for visitors. When the government agency fails to keep the property they control in a safe condition, the government must pay for a person's injuries.

What Areas of a Public Park Does a Local Government's Liability for Injury Extend To?

A local government can be liable for anything within the park grounds. Various cases have found liability for injuries occurring on playgrounds, basketball courts, baseball fields, skateboard parks, and even public pools. Common injuries that occur in public parks controlled by a government agency includes:

  • Slip and falls in the park that the government was aware of
  • Poorly maintained sidewalks, roads, and defective buildings
  • Defective children playgrounds known to government

What Is Government Negligence in Public Park Accidents?

The courts have said that a government agency has to exercise the same level of care to protect public parks and property from dangerous conditions as any private party would. When government fails to provide safe parks and maintain a safe property, they will be liable for any injuries that are suffered by those legally on the premises.

How Can I Prove Government Negligence in a Public Park?

If you were injured in a public park or property that is maintained and controlled by a government agency, you must show:

  • The government agency owned or controlled the property
  • A dangerous or unsafe condition existed on the property
  • The government agency knew or should have known of the dangerous condition
  • The government agency had a reasonable amount of time to fix and repair the dangerous condition, but failed to do so.
  • The plaintiff was not reckless or hazardous in causing their own injury

How Can I Prove My Personal Injury Claim against the Government?

The proof that is required to win your claim is similar to any other personal injury claim that is brought against a private entity. The more evidence you have gathered to prove the government was negligent, the more probable your chances of success are. Some strong evidence you can provide in your claim are:

  • Property Records: Prove that the government owns and controls the public park
  • Photograph and Video: Take photos or videos of the unsafe condition proving it existed and of the injuries that was cased by the dangerous condition within the park
  • Witness Statements: Try and get statements from witnesses who have no personal stake in the claim and write down what they saw and if they notice the dangerous condition
  • Incident Report: Have a police officer or public park investigator write down a incident report right after the incident or injury
  • Medical Records: Prove your injuries from showing proof that you were actually injured. You can only bring a personal injury claim if you were actually injured by the dangerous condition

How Can a Lawyer Help Me?

If you suffered injury while using facilities in a public park, you should contact a personal injury attorney to learn about any possible legal options you may have. Because public park liability laws differ from state to state, a lawyer is essential in determine what laws apply to your case. In addition, an attorney may be able to refer to cases similar to yours, and gauge the possible success of your claim.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-08-2018 01:41 AM PST

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