Trail Immunity in California Personal Injury Cases

California’s beautiful weather year-round means people are always taking advantage of all of nature and recreational activities available outdoors. Whether you prefer to hike, bike, or just enjoy a local walking trail, there’s something for everyone. These outdoor recreational spaces, however, can sometimes pose unknown or unexpected dangers. However, when accidents occur at a local park or recreational area, accident victims may face legal hurdles when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

In a recent California Court of Appeal decision, the court considered a claim relating to trail immunity. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff frequently rode bis bicycle through a local park, where a fence created a physical barrier that cyclists had to maneuver around when moving along the trail. At some point unknown to the plaintiff, the old fence was replaced with a wire cable type fence.

On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was riding his bicycle along the trail, did not see the wire cables strung between the new fence posts, and mistakenly believed he could ride through them. When he attempted to do so, he was thrown from his bicycle over the handlebars and onto the ground, suffering serious injuries. The plaintiff sued the local county in charge of maintaining the park. The county responded by asserting that the plaintiff’s claims were under the county’s trail immunity. The lower court sided with the defendants, holding that because the new fencing was a “condition” of the trail, the defendants were immune from legal action.

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision. Because the plaintiff only showed that the new wire cable fencing was linked to and existed only because of its connection to the park trail, the defendant was eligible for trail immunity. In addition, because the plaintiff was using the trail for recreational cycling and was injured during the course of this activity, the plaintiff’s claims were barred because of trail immunity.

Under California law, public entities can be liable for injuries that result from known or dangerous conditions of their property, but with limits. Trail immunity was enacted by the California legislature to provide specific immunity for certain public roads and trails. The law allows for a public entity to be shielded from liability for injuries caused by a condition of an unpaved road which provides access to fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, riding, etc. The immunity also applies to any trail used for these purposes.

Because legal claims involving trail immunity and ensuring a public entity is liable for your injury can often be extremely complex, potential plaintiffs are advised to contact an experienced California personal injury attorney.

Do You Need a California Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been recently injured while out at a park or a trail maintained by your local county, contact the attorneys at the Sharifi Firm. Our team of experienced lawyers has represented clients in all types of personal injury claims, including California slip-and-fall injuries, auto accidents, and more. We will advocate tirelessly on your behalf to help you pursue a claim for the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. Contact us today at 866-422-7222 for a free consultation.

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