Who Is Liable for Sledding Injuries?

Sledding acitivity
A man is using a life buoy to sled

Depending on where the accident occurred, property owners or those who suffer sledding injuries themselves may bear financial responsibility. Sledding down hills covered in snow, as well as grass, is a popular pastime for people throughout Illinois. The thrill of zooming down a hill and the fun of time spent with friends may end abruptly, however, when sledding accidents occur and cause serious injuries or death.

Sledding Accidents on Private Property

Under some circumstances, sledding injury victims may hold the owners of the property where their injuries occurred liable for their associated losses. Property owners’ obligation for keeping visitors to their property safe depends on why they are on their property. Whether a commercial or residential property, owners have a duty of care to customers, patrons, or others whom they invite to visit or use their properties to ensure the area is well-maintained and free of hazards. Therefore, property owners may have to pay sledding injury victims for the damages resulting from accidents caused by their negligence. For example, this may include a sledding accident that occurred because of hidden rocks on a hill or broken glass that a sled-rider fell into. Although the duty they bear for the safety of social guests to their properties, including neighbors or friends, is slightly less than that they owe to invitees, owners should also keep their properties free of hazards to ensure the safety of their licensees.

Property owners generally have not a duty of care when it comes to people trespassing on their properties. However, if their property is widely known and used as a sledding location, they may have a responsibility to warn of dangerous conditions. Owners may have to post such warnings even if they do not grant people permission to use the hills on their properties for sledding.

Government Immunity and Sled-Rider Risk

Due to government immunities, sled-riders assume the risk when they go sledding on public lands. Under the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, the city government cannot be held liable for injuries suffered due to weather conditions on public properties, including snow, ice, or rain. Further, the act precludes the government from bearing any liability for injuries suffered on public properties meant for recreational use, such as playgrounds, parks, buildings, open areas, and other facilities.