Centrally located in Walnut Creek, California, I represent clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California including Marin County, Sonoma, Napa, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties and beyond.

When are state and national parks responsible for visitor injuries?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2022 | Personal Injuries

California has some of the most beautiful state and national parks in the country – and many of them are here in the northern part of the state. We like to think that we’re safe in these parks. However, between Mother Nature and human nature, that’s not always the case.

Just before Memorial Day this year, the union that represents U.S. Park Police issued a troubling statement that “families should avoid unnecessary travel to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Presidio” because “simply put, they are not safe.”

In their own statement disputing that rather dire assertion, the National Park Service (NPS) said it doesn’t “represent the facts or reality on the ground.” Nonetheless, there’s no reason to believe that the criminal activity that we see in our cities stops at the entrance to a state or national park.

Park police forces are understaffed

Like law enforcement agencies across the country, park police forces have their own staffing issues. In some cases, parks are seriously understaffed. Even the NPS acknowledges that it has “seen a decrease in staffing over the last decade.” It says it’s committed to “restoring staffing capacity” and is seeking the financial resources to do it. Of course, as an entity of the federal government, their budget is largely in the hands of Congress, which has had its challenges agreeing on budget priorities.

Not all injuries are caused by visitor recklessness

Most of the serious injuries and fatalities that gain media coverage involve people doing reckless things, like getting into a wild animal’s personal space or climbing, hiking or swimming in restricted areas. However, other injuries are caused by defective equipment (for example in play areas), poorly maintained roads and violent crime.

If you believe that your or a loved one’s injury in a state or national park could and should have been prevented by those in charge of maintaining and keeping the park secure, you may have your work cut out for you in holding them accountable. It’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.