Late last month, an appellate court in Indiana issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a bicyclist who was injured while riding on a government-owned trail. The case required the court to determine if the state government was entitled to immunity under the state’s recreational use statute. Finding that the state was entitled to immunity, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
Although this case took place in Indiana, it is relevant to Florida bike injury victims because it illustrates the difficulties that an accident victim may face when bringing a personal injury case against a government entity or employee.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was riding his bike on a mixed-use trail that was owned and operated by the state park department. As the plaintiff was passing a pedestrian, the tire of the plaintiff’s bike got caught in a moderately sized crack in the pavement. This caused the plaintiff to lose control of the bike and fall to the ground. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries to his shoulder as a result of the fall and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the state government.
The plaintiff presented evidence that the parks department knew about the crack but had not yet fixed it. However, the parks department had placed a repair order to fix the crack; it had just not been completed at the time of the plaintiff’s injury.
The state argued that it was entitled to immunity based on the fact that the plaintiff’s injuries occurred on a “road which provides access to fishing, hunting, or primitive camping, recreational, or scenic areas and which is not a … city, town or village street.” The government also argued that it was entitled to immunity under a different statute, which grants immunity to landowners in cases in which the plaintiff’s injuries are a result of engaging in recreational activity on the defendant’s land.
The court rejected the government’s first argument for immunity but agreed that the government was entitled to recreational use immunity. The court explained that, under the statute, it was uncontested that the plaintiff was engaging in recreational activity at the time of the accident. The only question was whether the government’s conduct was “willful or wanton,” in which case immunity would not apply.
Here, the court concluded that the government’s conduct did not rise to the level of “willful or wanton,” as indicated by the fact that the repair order had been placed. Additionally, the court noted that a government could not be expected to repair all of the cracks in the pavement immediately, given the weather in the area and frequent freezing temperatures.
Have You Been Injured on Government Property?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident while on government property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling a wide range of Florida personal injury lawsuits, including those naming government entities or employees as defendants. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case today.
More Blog Posts:
Florida’s Rule of Evidence Regarding Witnesses’ Inconsistent Statements, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 19, 2017.
Court Finds Question of Whether Defendant Had Knowledge of Dangerous Condition Was a Matter for the Jury, Rejecting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 5, 2018.