California Court Upholds City’s Assertion of Trail Immunity in Recent Personal Injury Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a California premises liability lawsuit discussing the state’s trail immunity statute and how it can preclude an accident victim’s recovery. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiff’s case fell within the statute’s grant of immunity and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a young man who was “ghost hunting” in a park after hours. The boys had snuck into the park at around 3:00 a.m. and were making their way down a steep incline to the trail below.

As the plaintiff was descending the hill, he began to slip. The plaintiff then began to roll head-over-heels down the steep embankment. When he reached the trail, he was traveling with such force that he continued across the trail and over the edge of a 10-foot retaining wall. The plaintiff eventually struck a tree and came to a stop. He suffered debilitating injuries as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city that owned and maintained the park.

The city claimed that it was entitled to immunity under Government Code section 831.4, subdivision (b)1, which is the California trail immunity statute. The statute provides immunity to government entities that allow the public to use the land for recreational purposes, including fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, and riding.

The plaintiff argued that the statute did not apply to his case because he was not injured on the trail, but his injury was due to the city’s failure to place a guard rail along the trail’s edge. However, the court was not convinced by the plaintiff’s attempt to get around the city’s asserted trail immunity.

The court determined that the plaintiff was indeed injured while attempting to use the trail, and the plaintiff’s attempt to re-characterize his injuries to fit outside the grant of immunity was unsuccessful. Similarly, the court held that the city’s failure to place warning signs or a retaining wall on the trail was still within the statute’s grant of immunity as it related to the use and design of the trail. The court explained the plaintiff’s narrow interpretation of the trail immunity statute was not consistent with prior case law and would not be adopted.

Have You Been Injured on Government Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on property that belongs to the state or federal government, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a California premises liability lawsuit. While trail immunity does apply in some circumstances, there are exceptions to this immunity. The dedicated California personal injury attorneys at Sharifi Firm have extensive experience handling all types of California personal injury cases, including cases naming government entities or officials as defendants. As a result, we are experienced in dealing with immunity issues. To learn more, call 866-422-7222 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated California injury attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

The Types of Available Damages in California Injury Claims, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2018

Establishing Liability in California Premises Liability Claims, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 21, 2018

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