Summer is the perfect season for long walks or even a picnic or BBQ in a park. But here is the problem: parks are not exactly the most injury-free places where no accidents or incidents happen.
Unfortunately, there are many circumstances in which you can sustain injuries in a park, including but not limited to bicycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, tree limbs falling down, or even crimes such as robbery, assault or sexual assault, among other.
But more often than not, it is not immediately clear who should be held responsible for your injuries in a park. That is why we asked our Los Angeles personal injury attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP to explain who is liable for accidents and incidents that occur in private and public parks in California.
Private vs. public park: responsibilities and legal duties
If you have been injured in a park, it is vital to determine if you were injured in a private or public park. Depending on who owns the park you were injured in a landowner or the city, municipality or county – you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit either against the landowner or occupier or the government.
Under the legal doctrine of premises liability in California, landowners and occupiers of property are held responsible for injuries of their visitors as long as the injured party can prove that the owner or occupier owed them a duty of care and that the duty was breached by negligence, recklessness, intentional act or omission.
More often than not, it means that the owner or occupier of the property failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent the accident or incident. For example, this can happen if the landowner or possessor failed to adequately and regularly maintain and inspect the premises, failed to ensure adequate security measures (such as adequate lighting) or failed to eliminate a dangerous condition in a timely manner.
How private park owners can be held responsible
A private park owner’s responsibilities vary depending on your legal status. Our experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles explains that you can be classified as one of the following from the moment you enter a privately owned park:
- Invitee. If you paid or were invited to enter the privately owned park, the owner has a legal duty to ensure your safety at the property during your stay.
- Licensee. If you are a social guest, then the owner of the park also has a legal duty to prevent foreseeable accidents and incidents by taking reasonable steps.
- Trespasser. If you were trespassing when you sustained injuries in a private park, you can hold the owner of the park liable only if you can prove that the owner or occupier intentionally and knowingly created the dangerous condition and that the condition was likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.
Holding a government entity liable for injuries in a public park
Suing a government entity for your injuries in a public park is a whole new story that comes with its own legal challenges. If you were injured in a publically owned park, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the city, municipality or county that controls and maintains the park.
“But here is what you need to consider before filing a lawsuit,” warns out Los Angeles personal injury attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP
- Immunity. You should follow a very strict procedure and comply with a set of legal rules in order to sue a government entity for injuries sustained in a publically owned place such as a public park. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims against the government tend to give plaintiffs shorter time frames.
- Notice. Before filing a lawsuit against a government entity, you will have to provide notice of the claim before suing.
- Legal representation. A personal injury lawsuit against the government can potentially result in hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in monetary compensation, which is why the importance of being represented by a skilled lawyer cannot be overestimated. Be sure that the government will hire the best defense attorneys in California in order to dismiss your case or minimize the value of your claim.
You better be prepared to fight for your rights when suing the government for your injuries sustained in a public park.