Who is at Fault if Someone is Injured While Sledding on Private Property?
With snow comes the fun of winter activities: ice skating, skiing, sledding and more. When you go to a ski resort or ice skating rink, you know that the owner and operator take on a certain amount of legal responsibility for the condition of their property. But what about sledding? What are the premises liability rules for a homeowner with a great hill on their property that attracts all the neighborhood children? If someone is hurt while sledding at their home, is the sledder responsible, or the property owner?
The situation happens more often than you’d think, and in cases where the injury was a result of the condition of the property where the accident took place, premises liability laws will rule against the property owner and in favor of the person who sustained the injury.
When a person is injured in a sledding incident, or really on any property other than their own, there are three questions that need to be addressed. They are:
- Who is responsible for the property? People who own or occupy property have a duty of care to keep it reasonably safe. Though a property owner is not responsible for somebody else acting recklessly on their property, they are responsible for the condition of the property and for removing any conditions that put people at risk.
- Was the person who was injured trespassing? As a property owner, you have a responsibility for anybody who is welcome on your property, but not to people who are trespassing. But if your property is widely known as having a good sledding hill, it doesn’t matter whether the children have your permission to be there or not – you are responsible for protecting them by warning that there’s a dangerous condition present.
- The assumption of risk vs unknown dangers. While a sledder assumes a certain amount of risk when they go sledding that risk is for falling off the sled, twisting an ankle that type of injury. It does not include being hurt by a hidden dangerous condition. If a property has hidden dangerous rocks, sharp metal, or broken glass and somebody gets hurt by it, premises liability laws make the owner responsible.
If you’ve been hurt on somebody else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and other damages you’ve suffered. Contact our office today to learn more about your rights.