friends are planning a camping trip for the summer, and they want to stop at
several state parks. I’ve been asked to come along, but I’ve recently read
several stories about how hikers and campers are getting injured at these
parks. Should I be worried? Who is responsible for these injuries?
are a wonderful way to enjoy the natural beauty of the U.S. Some state parks
are free to enter, and there are usually ample opportunities for camping. But
there are also risks of injuries.
be worried? Yes, and no. You could get hit by a car or killed walking out of
your front door. Risks of injury shouldn’t stop you from doing something you
want to do. Otherwise, you may never leave the house.
said, you should still be careful and use common sense if you go camping with
your friends. People suffer from automobile accidents, drownings, slips and
falls, electrocutions and other types of injuries when visiting state parks.
Injuries caused by wildlife contact and falling tree branches are also common.
As far as
responsibility for injuries goes, state and federal agencies have sovereign
immunity from lawsuits. However, there are some exceptions. As per the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), private individuals can file
negligence torts against federal agencies as well as
their employees if their actions result in personal injuries.
can pursue claims for automobile accidents caused by poor road maintenance,”
says Bogdan Martinovich. “They can pursue claims for premises liability when damaged or poorly
maintained facilities lead to a slip and fall accident. Victims can even pursue
claims for medical negligence when first responders fail to properly treat an
injured visitor within a state park.”
entities have a responsibility to keep visitors safe from harm. If they breach
this duty, they can be found negligent. However, you must be able to prove that
the negligence existed. In some cases, negligence is blatant and obvious, but
typically, negligence is difficult to prove.
let’s say that your friend decided to climb the rocks near a waterfall in a
state park. He slipped on the wet rock, fell and suffered head trauma.
Throughout the park, there are signs posted that warn visitors not to climb the
rocks and of the hazardous condition. In this case, the government would
probably not be held liable because your friend ignored the sign and warning.
On the other
hand, if there is a known natural hazard, but there were no signs posted to
warn your friend of the danger, the park may be found negligent in this case.
liability comes down to the circumstances of the injury – as is the case with
most personal injury claims. You would need to consult with a lawyer to
determine whether you had a case and who, if anyone, would be responsible for
should be to avoid injuries in the first place. Use common sense when camping.
Wear the appropriate clothing and shoes for hiking. Follow the rules regarding
food and bears, and don’t attempt to hike trails or paths that are too
difficult or hazardous.