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What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured in a Park?

With summer comes summer break, in which millions of schoolchildren are given a seasonal reprieve from academics.  Parents often fill their children’s newfound free time with anything from excursions to neighborhood parks to vacations to national parks.  Kids, being kids, will inevitably encounter a myriad or boo-boos, bruises, and band-aids throughout their playground career, but what happens if your child encounters a more serious injury, costing thousands of dollars?  Is it possible to blame the park for the injury, and make it pay compensation? The answer, of course, depends– but in any case, you should contact an experienced Ocala park injury lawyer like the King Law Firm as quickly as possible to discuss your options.

The main variable affecting your case is whether the park was publicly or privately owned.  Privately-owned parks may be held accountable for unsafe conditions on their premises, while public parks can often obtain immunity under government regulations and the age-old legal principle that the government “is exempt from suit … on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends.” That is, it’s very hard to use the government’s own laws against itself.

If the park your child was injured on was privately owned, premises liability may hold the park owner liable for your child’s injury.  The most leverageable incidents involve a nonstandard condition knowingly imposed by the park owner, such as a faulty monkey bar that’s near its fatigue limit. Even if an adult could be reasonably expected to recognize and avoid the nonstandard condition, the law allows private park owners to be held liable for attractive nuisances, so if your daughter injures herself on a playground staircase that has clearly seen better days, the courts will likely forgo that common sense would have kept her off the staircase.  (Usually, if an injured adult is partially to blame, the court will only assess a partial penalty to the property owner.) Statutes of Limitation may limit the amount of time you have to file your case, so you should immediately contact an experienced Ocala park injury lawyer, like the King Law Firm, to figure out your options.

A successful lawsuit against the government is difficult because it requires two victories: first, the court must find your case eligible for a hearing; second, you must win your case.  Traditionally, bringing a legal claim against the government was nearly impossible. In Kawananakoa v. Polyblank (1907), Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. ruled that the government cannot be held liable for non-constitutional issues because any such case against the government would necessarily invoke laws created by the government; the case would essentially be saying, “you broke your own law.”  At time, the only way to get compensation for injuries at the hands of the government was to ask your local Representative to give you a Congressional earmark. To help alleviate the mountain of bills Congress passed just to grant somebody compensation for the government’s wrongdoings, Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (1946), which allows a certain court to hear a lawsuit against the government if it doesn’t fall prey to a plethora of broadly-interpreted exceptions. The FTCA would apply to injuries incurred by your child at a federally-owned park, like Grand Canyon National Park, while similar state and local regulations apply at state parks and municipal parks, respectively.  An experienced Ocala park injury lawyer at the King Law Firm can help you navigate these restrictions and determine if the court is likely to hear your case.

Injuries incurred on privately-owned parks are much more likely to result in compensation than injuries incurred on public parks, but in any case, you should contact an experienced Ocala park injury at the King Law Firm to figure out the best way to proceed with your specific case.

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