Who Is Liable for Falls at State Parks?
Individuals who are injured at state parks can pursue government entities for damages that are caused by unsafe conditions. When park workers and others responsible for maintaining public areas are negligent in their duties, government entities are legally liable for the injuries that result.
Common Injuries in State Parks
Automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, drownings, electrocutions, and assaults are common types of injuries suffered in state parks. Other causes of injuries include wounds suffered from falling tree branches and contact with wildlife.
Navigating Sovereign Immunity
Many state and federal agencies claim sovereign immunity from lawsuits. However, there are holes in this armor that are designed to give the general public the opportunity to pursue legitimate claims for damages. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) private individuals can file negligence torts against federal agencies and the employees whose actions result in personal injuries.
In Illinois, the Illinois Court of Claims Act limits the ability of state agencies to declare sovereign immunity. The law allows injured parties to pursue claims the same as if the individual would pursue a claim against a private entity, individual, or company whose similar negligence was responsible for causing similar types of injuries.
Individuals can pursue claims for automobile accidents caused by poor road maintenance. They can pursue claims for premises liability when damaged or poorly maintained facilities lead to a slip and fall accident. Victims can even pursue claims for medical negligence when first responders fail to properly treat an injured visitor within a state park.
There are two ways to pursue claims. First, individuals can file a notice of a personal injury claim with the Illinois Attorney General and the Clerk of the Court of Claims within one year of the injury. If this option is chosen, individuals can file their lawsuit anytime up to two years from the date of injury. Alternatively, individuals can file a lawsuit with the Court of Claims within one year. By filing the lawsuit within one year, there is no need to file a notice with the courts or Attorney General.