Hiking by yourself, with family, or with a group can be a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors and get exercise. California offers a plethora of gorgeous hiking locations, including Yosemite National Park and Pine Ridge Trail. Safety first is the number one rule during any hike, but sometimes accidents happen regardless of proper safety precautions. If you are injured during a hike through no fault of your own, you may be able to hold someone else responsible for damages.
Injuries on Tours or Expeditions
One of the most popular ways to experience the beautiful hiking trails in California is by signing up with an organized expedition or tour group. Often, tour guides have insider information about the locations you are hiking and can give you tips on the best sites to see. Traveling with a tour guide may give you the impression that it is safer than hiking alone, but even tour guides make mistakes. When these oversights lead to personal injury, you can file a claim against the tour or expedition company.
For example, if the tour company does not have access to a part of the mountain your tour guide takes you to and the rocks crumble and cause you to fall down the side of the mountain, the courts may blame the company’s negligence for your injury or wrongful death. If you sustain an injury due to reasons outside your control, you must prove the tour company contributed to your accident due to negligence to file a claim against them.
Tour and expedition companies owe a duty of care to all clients. When they breach this duty, they can face legal consequences. Many expedition companies make clients sign a waiver stating the business is not liable for any accidents or injuries sustained on the hike. While these waivers protect companies from many personal injury liabilities, they do not provide legal protection in the event the enterprise is negligent.
State and National Park Hike Injuries
Some of the greatest hiking locations in California are the many state and national parks. Just because a location is labeled as a national park does not mean it is safe from accidents. Sadly, many people sustain injuries hiking state and national parks every year. Some of these injuries are due to hiker error, but many are attributable to negligent property owners.
Government entities that own state and national parks are responsible for the upkeep and regular maintenance of properties, including inspecting parks for hazards and potential risks. Traditionally, “sovereign immunity” laws protected government entities from premises liability, but today this no longer holds true. Thanks to the Federal Tort Claims Act, California courts now allow personal injury lawsuits against the federal government. Therefore, if you sustain an injury on a government-owned park due to owner negligence, you can file a personal injury claim as you would with any other premises.
City Trail Injuries
Hikers who sustain injury on city trails have the same rights as those injured in state or national parks. If the injury was the result of property owner negligence or a city trail employee’s negligence, you can sue the city and/or the individual person responsible. For example, if you trip on a tool the maintenance crew left in the middle of the trail and sprain your ankle, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim.
If you were injured during a hike in California and wish to hear your legal options, contact the Law Offices of Howard Kitay for expert legal advice. We will stand by you against the city, state, or federal government in premises liability claims as well as against tour companies guilty of negligent standards of care. Request a free consultation today.