Parks are heavily frequented areas, especially in the summer months. However, people are not immune to injuries, including slips and falls, bicycle accidents, robberies, etc. Therefore, whether you can claim personal injury if you hurt yourself playing football in the park depends on several factors. First, let’s take a closer look at public park laws.
Who Has Liability
Any park owned by the government or a local authority is public property, meaning the government may be liable for injuries at these.
Until 1948, all government entities protected themselves from personal injury claims through sovereign immunity. However, the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) of 1948 changed this; individuals could sue the government for injuries on federal property or those caused by federal employees.
State and local governments started slowly implementing the act, allowing people to sue for injuries sustained in public parks. Government liability extends to all public park areas, including pools, skateboard parks, and sports fields.
Proving Government Negligence
To recover damages from a government agency for injuries suffered at a park, you need to prove negligence in property maintenance by the government agency. The law requires that government agencies keep public parks safe by repairing areas and equipment, and they must either remove dangers or warn the public using the facilities about them. Under the law, the government agency must provide the same level of care required by private parties.
Therefore, the government agency is liable for injuries sustained because they have failed to keep the park safe by maintaining it.
Despite variances in the different state laws, if you hurt yourself while playing football, you will have to prove the following elements:
- That a dangerous or unsafe condition located in the park caused your injury
- That the property where the hazardous condition existed belongs or is owned or controlled by a government agency
- That the government agency knew or should have known about the unsafe conditions
- That the local government body failed to make the repair required in a reasonable amount of time
- That you, the plaintiff, did not cause the injuries out of irresponsibility or carelessness
- Finally, suing a government entity requires that you bear certain things in mind; these include the statute of limitations and the fact that you need to provide notice of a claim before suing.
What Damages to Expect from a Public Injury
As a plaintiff bringing a public park injury lawsuit against a local government agency, the amount of recovery you may receive for a successful claim is limited. This is mainly because most government agencies restrict the amounts they pay and the types of compensation they cover.
Unlike the compensation in a private personal injury lawsuit that allows the plaintiff to get economic and non-economic damages in cases of gross negligence by the defendant, in claims against local government agencies, you can typically expect just monetary damages.
Therefore, you cannot expect the awarding of punitive damages from state and federal agencies for loss of quality of life, emotional distress, etc., since they prohibit them.
As a plaintiff in a public park injury lawsuit, you can expect to receive monetary damages as reimbursement for the expenses related to your injury. These include medical or dental treatments, hospital bills, damage to your property, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. In addition, your compensation will also include some of the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred resulting from your injury.
Moreover, the court may rule that the local government agency must remove the unsafe conditions and make the necessary repairs to the area where your injury occurred.
State Laws and Local Parks
In many states, local governments are held responsible for injuries caused by negligence at local parks since the local authorities must keep them safe for the public. Therefore, state laws on public park liability can affect the outcome of your injury claim.
Some of the duties of the local authorities include placing parks in safe areas and ensuring the materials used for their construction are safe. Furthermore, they are responsible for fixing any dangerous conditions in the park as they arise.
Sometimes, the local government may be immune from a lawsuit, and the state government may hold the responsibility. Furthermore, there are also cases where the state must approve claims over a certain amount, causing a delay in the process.
Proving negligence against a state park can often be difficult, and one must consider that they have a specific cap on the amounts they pay. In addition, the time plaintiffs have for making a personal injury claim against the government is shorter, so don’t let the statute of limitations lapse. Finally, ensuring a successful personal injury claim from an injury caused while playing football in the park requires the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.