New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation lauds that New York has 180 state parks within which there are many opportunities
for visitors to hike, among other things. Many Kingston, New York residents
may find themselves hiking the Andes Rail Trail, Briarcliff-Peekskill
Trail Way, Catskill Scenic Trail, and or the D and H Canal Heritage Corridor.
Experienced Kingston trip and fall attorneys know that outdoor recreation
is highly valued by Kingston area residents. However, Mid-Hudson Valley
residents should be aware of the injuries that are suffered by outdoor
enthusiasts. Safety should be on everyone’s minds, but when there
is an injury hikers should know that the operator of a park, even the
state, can be liable for a hiker’s injuries caused by a
slip and fall or trip and fall off a trail.
Even a private park can be liable for a hiker’s injuries. Additionally,
summer camps, whether publicly or privately operated, can be liable for
a hiker’s injuries.
Hiking Safety and Statistics:
At the national level, hiking is the third highest outdoor activity from
which emergency visits are needed. The only outdoor recreational activities
that lead to more emergency room visits are snowboarding and sledding.
Hiking injuries include fractures and sprains, mostly to the limbs. Although
nearly a quarter of all injuries related to outdoor recreational activities
are to a person’s head or neck.
The best way to prevent injury is for hikers to know their ability levels
and keep to trails suitable for that level. Staying in good physical shape
will also help prevent injury. As a matter of precaution, hikers should
always carry first aid supplies, inform friends and relatives about where
they are hiking, and always sign the visitor’s book at the trail head.
Availability of New York State as a Defendant:
The State of New York waived sovereign immunity in certain circumstances.
Therefore, New York can be held liable for injuries caused to citizens.
In the context of hiking trails on state owned land, the state can be
held liable for a hiker’s injuries if the state breached its duty
in maintaining the park. In the most general terms, if the state failed
to keep the park and trail way in a
reasonably safe condition, and the defective condition caused the hiker’s injuries, than the state can be held accountable in a court of law. The unsafe
condition can be a failure to warn of danger, and or a failure to correct a hazard.
The Liability of Private Outdoor Parks:
As you could probably ascertain from the above, if the State of New York
can be liable for a hiker’s injuries, than parks operated by private
parties can be held liable as well. Just as the state is required to use
reasonableness in maintaining the safety of its parks for visitors, owners
of private land must keep the property safe for visitors. The basic inquiry
within all premises liability law suits involves asking whether or not
the property owner kept the land in a reasonably safe condition so as
to avert preventable and foreseeable injury.
Summer Camp Liability:
Summer camps are charged with ensuring the safety of the children over
whom they are supervising. Of course, children are prone to injury, especially
when playing outside. Nonetheless, the camp staff must properly and adequately
supervise the children in order to support the overall safety of children.
Not only should the children be supervised, but the camp grounds and equipment
must be maintained so as to not create unnecessary dangers to campers.
Failing at either, supervision or maintenance, could give rise to liability.
Of course, warning of known dangers must be provided as well.