A skatepark is a recreational area where people can practice skateboarding and related activities, like BMX and inline skating. Skateparks generally are not flat surfaces and contain many dips and hills. They also contain structures like ramps, railings, and stairs for people to practice skating moves.
Because of the nature of skateboarding, injuries can be a common occurrence. Injuries are increasingly common amongst the youth and less experienced skaters. Injuries can range from minor to severe, and whether someone is wearing protective gear can usually lessen the seriousness of the injuries.
Some typical skatepark injuries include cuts, bruises, abrasions, muscle strains, sprains, broken bones, and head trauma. Again, wearing safety equipment like a helmet or padding is encouraged to prevent or lessen the graveness of the injury.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Skatepark Accidents or Injuries?
If an injury occurs at a skatepark requiring medical treatment, the injured party may want to take legal action. As such, interested parties should become familiar with liability for skatepark accidents.
To determine who can be potentially liable for skatepark accidents, the first thing to do is find out if the skatepark is privately or publicly owned. If privately owned, the skatepark owner or operator could be liable. If the skatepark is publicly owned then entities like cities, townships, and park districts could face liability for skatepark accidents.
However, most skateparks will have signs warning about the dangerous nature of skateparks. Some will even have you sign a liability waiver saying you will not sue for injuries sustained on the property. While this can make it difficult to sue for skatepark accidents, it is not impossible and will depend on your individual circumstances.
Some situations where liability can still exist even when there are warnings or liability waivers involved include the following:
- Not keeping up with maintenance, like failing to repair broken structures or have appropriate lighting;
- Posting the warnings in areas that park patrons cannot easily see, thus not providing proper notice about injury risks; and
- Having defective equipment in the park (manufacturers of the equipment could face liability for this as well under a products liability claim).
It is important to remember that people assume the inherent risks of using a skatepark. Just like not wearing protective gear, the inherent risk can place liability on the injured party. Additionally, federal and state entities could invoke tort immunity so it is important to know if that applies in your case.
Lastly, other skaters could be liable for skatepark accidents. This is true when negligence, recklessness, or malice is involved. Some examples are failing to follow park rules or warnings, participating in dangerous conduct in close proximity to other skaters, or intentionally harming another person. With instances of malice and intent to harm, the other skater could face criminal liability as well.
What Legal Remedies are Available for Skatepark Accidents or Injuries?
If civil liability does exist for skateboarding accidents that occur at a skatepark, then the injured party may be able to recover monetary damages. This would reflect the losses sustained as a result of the accident, like medical bills and lost wages from inability to work.
If a skateboarding accident occurs because another skater intentionally hurts someone else, the cops will likely be called and the victim can seek criminal charges for battery or other related crimes. This could result in the person causing the accident having to face a prison sentence or other punishment.
What Laws Cover Skatepark Accidents or Injuries?
It is important for individuals who have sustained skateboarding injuries to know what laws apply. One possible claim is for premises liability against the owner where negligence is involved and failure to properly warn about dangers at the skatepark.
As noted above, you could also have a products liability claim. Say there is a ramp at the park that was defectively made and caused your skateboarding injuries. You could file a lawsuit against the manufacturer and/or designer of the ramp for creating and selling the faulty product that caused your injuries.
As discussed, there is inherent assumed risk involved with skateboarding and related activities that take place at skateparks. In addition, public entities may be able to argue that they have immunity for liability.
However, if you sue a public entity for skateboarding injuries and they try to invoke sovereign immunity you could have arguments to combat this. If a government employee acted negligently operating or maintaining the skatepark then you could have a case under the Federal Tort Claims Act to get rid of the asserted immunity. Your state or local government may have a comparable law. However, these laws are often complex and limited so consulting a lawyer about immunity issues is encouraged.
When Should I Hire an Attorney for Help for Skatepark Accidents or Injuries?
If you have suffered a skatepark accident, a personal injury lawyer can help. A lawyer can look over the facts of your case and let you know if you have grounds to bring a civil lawsuit. A lawyer can also assess your chances of placing liability on the private operator or public entity that owns the skatepark. Your lawyer will represent you in any court proceedings and try to negotiate the best settlement on your behalf.