A skate park, or skateboard parks, are recreational environments, usually in public parks, where a person can practice skateboarding, BMX, wheelchair, scooter, or inline skating maneuvers.
Typically, a skate park consists of a series of setups involving ramps, half-pipes, grinding rails, pools, bowls, and full pipes. Injuries often occur at skate parks due to the inherent risks and nature involved in the activity of skateboarding, and are one of the most common types of youth sports accidents.
Injuries that commonly occur in skate parks include:
- Minor to severe cuts and abrasions;
- Head and neck injuries;
- Back injuries;
- Broken bones including broken arms and legs; and
- Other minor injuries such as muscle sprains and strains.
Skate park patrons are usually encouraged, and often required by the skate park itself, to utilize protective equipment to lessen the risk of injuries. The most common protective equipment required is helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads.
Skate parks commonly post rules and warning signs, including liability notices, in prominent areas regarding the usage of the skate park. Thus, suing a skate park or the city for injuries you or your child sustained at a skate park is often a difficult task, but may be possible given a through investigation of the circumstances surrounding your individual claim.
In short, whether someone can be held liable for injuries sustained at a skate park is determined on the circumstances surrounding the claimant’s injuries. Although skate parks, being recreational in nature, are often heavily protected from tort claims, the city may be held liable if it is determined that the injury was caused by a defect in the park’s structures.
Questions that you can ask yourself to determine if another entity or individual may be liable for you or your child’s injuries include:
- Was there a failure to maintain the park structures? In making the skate park public, cities have an obligation to make sure that the park is reasonably safe to use. However, people are still assuming the inherent risk when using the park. This means the city must maintain the park, such as making sure the area is well lit and the structures are well maintained.
- Thus, the city is obligated to eliminate potential safety hazards such as uneven pavement, rusty or broken grinding rails, or other hazards. Therefore, if an individual falls off their skateboard due to a broken rail and is injured, that individual may have a claim against the city or skate park if they can demonstrate that the park knew of the potential hazard, but failed to make repairs;
- Were your injuries caused by defective park equipment? In some cases manufacturers of skate park ramps and equipment can be held liable for defective products or parts used in the ramps or equipment;
- Was the skate park a private park? If the skate park was a privately run skate park, then you may be able to sue the skate park owners if they failed to post warning signs, and if you never signed a waiver agreeing to not sue the skate park for any reason. Additionally, if the skate park created a duty to supervise a child and failed to supervise, they may also be liable for injuries sustained; or
- Were your injuries caused by another skater? In some cases, other patrons of the park can be held liable for injuries caused to one another. This usually involves some act of negligence or recklessness, such as:
- Disregarding park rules;
- Riding too fast or doing dangerous maneuvers too close to other patrons;
- Riding through crowds; or
- Performing tricks in non-skate designated areas, such as picnic areas or parking lots.
It is important to remember that cities and towns have a legal protection against tort cases at the federal level thanks to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Federal Tort Claims Act, which was passed in 1946, provides cities the freedom from certain torts. Additionally, most states also have state claims acts, which provide immunity at the state level from certain torts, as well as specific procedures for bringing any tort claims against the state.
Skate park injuries often involve various laws, and sorting out liability can be a difficult task. In the cases that result in a lawsuit, the injured party may receive a monetary damages award for their injuries.
The damages award is meant to compensate the injured party for their losses, such as medical bills, medication costs, and other losses. Further, if many persons are routinely getting injured at one park location, the safety standards and equipment at the skate park may be subject to evaluation.
As can be seen, skate park injuries involve various laws, which require proving various different levels of liability. Thus, if you find yourself in a situation where you or your child were injured at a skate park, it may be in your best interests to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney.
An experienced attorney will be able to determine if you have a viable case, and who to sue. Further, they will be able to help you navigate through the various legal issues of your case, and represent you in a court of law, if necessary.