What to Do If You are Injured at a National Park This Summer
National Parks offer opportunities for summer fun but may also harbor liability hazards
As summer approaches, many families will be enjoying excursions to various National Parks, National Monuments, and other federal recreation lands. According to the Park Service’s own data, roughly 6,000 visitors suffer serious injuries or fatalities each year. Considering that there are hundreds of millions of visitors, these incidents are rare, but if someone in your family is injured it will certainly not feel like an insignificant statistic to you. Here are some tips on preventing and reacting to injuries at National Parks.
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Whether you are in the backcountry or in a parking lot, hazards may exist that could cause injury. It is important to be alert to signage about hazards like animal activity, trails under construction, or steep drop offs, as ignoring a warning or failing to notice an obvious hazard that a reasonably prudent person would avoid could prevent you from getting compensation for your injuries via a personal injury lawsuit.
2. Document the scene of an accident. If someone does have an accident on National Park property, obviously your first priority should be to get them the medical attention they need. Then, it is crucial to document the scene of the accident so that the specific conditions which caused or contributed to the injuries can be identified and the Park Service’s liability proven.
3. Document injuries. It is also important to document not only the initial injury but also the recovery process, as this will affect the size of the settlement. For example, in two recent National Park personal injury suits, two plaintiffs were given similar settlements despite having vastly different injuries due in part to differences in the recovery process. A 9-year-old boy who fell from a bridge after a railing gave way and broke his back, ribs, and wrists received $80,000, while a 67-year-old woman who tripped over an unmarked curb and broke her ankle received $75,000. Experts in tort cases say that the boy’s youth and speedy recovery was a factor in the seeming low value of his settlement.
4. Hire a skilled personal injury attorney. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can have a big impact on the size of your settlement. In particular, it is important to have an attorney who is bold and confident enough to push the defense to trial rather than accepting the first settlement offered.