Regardless of where you live in the U.S., you're likely within easy driving distance of one of 59 national parks or more than 6,600 state parks. From the Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls, these parks provide great, protected views of nature's beauty. However, even with precautions and restricted areas, these parks can occasionally pose dangers to visitors -- and if you've been injured after a slip or fall at one of these parks, you may be wondering whether you have any recourse. Your ability to recover medical costs or other expenses may depend on one of any number of factors, and this case will likely be more complex than filing a personal injury lawsuit against a private or publicly-traded company. Read on to learn more about how your potential personal injury lawsuit against the state or federal government will proceed.
When can you sue a state or federal park for injuries suffered?
Although state and federal governments have immunity from certain types of lawsuits due to their status, they're not exempt from potential liability if a patron is injured due to the negligence or recklessness of an employee or the park's management. For example, if an employee's failure to trim overgrown weeds on a path caused you to trip, or a potentially dangerous area wasn't clearly marked with warning signs, you could file a lawsuit to recover costs for your (otherwise preventable) injuries. In some cases, park visitors have even been permitted to sue for injuries caused by a wild animal bite or attack if it's found that the park's management or employees should have taken additional measures to protect patrons.
On the other hand, if you were being reckless yourself while you were injured -- by disregarding signs or venturing into restricted areas in violation of state or federal law -- you may be unable to recover damages for your injuries, or you may recover damages at a reduced amount under a theory known as contributory negligence. It may still be worthwhile to file a lawsuit to recover some costs, but you'll be unable to receive as much as someone who was injured through no fault of their own.
How do you sue the state or federal government?
Although these governments aren't exempt from liability for injuries due to negligence or recklessness, the procedure for filing a lawsuit is different than when you're suing a public or private company. You'll generally need to provide notice to the government before your lawsuit, sometimes shortly after the accident takes place, or your lawsuit could be dismissed for failure to follow the applicable procedure. If you're suing for an accident in a national park, you'll need to file a notice under the Federal Tort Claims Act before your lawsuit can proceed. Most state governments have similar procedures, so you'll need to consult with an attorney licensed in the state in which you were injured (regardless of whether this is your home state) to determine what will need to happen before your lawsuit can go to court.
How much will you be able to recover for your injuries?
As with other personal injury lawsuits, you'll generally be able to receive damages for medical bills and other expenses related to your injury. This can include lost wages, physical therapy costs, or even damages for emotional trauma if this was directly resulting from your accident. However, some state governments have tort cap limits, which can potentially put a limit on the amount you'll be able to receive in a lawsuit against the state government, even if the total cost of your injuries was much higher than this amount. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the potential recovery amount in your specific state.
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29 July 2015
My name is Noni. When I was in college, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. My life was never in danger, but I did break a few bones and had a lot of huge medical bills. I was hoping I wouldn't have to get involved with an attorney, but unfortunately, it came down to that. I used a family friend who is an accident attorney to get some compensation. A few years later, I was hit while riding my bike and had to go through the same process. I suppose I'm lucky to be alive. And it's thanks to accident attorneys that I have been able to put my life back together. I started this blog as a way to let others know just how much lawyers can help you in certain situations.