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Accidents in Public Parks

Accidents in Public Parks

We have handled many types of accidents occurring in public parks, such as:

  • Trip and falls on broken walkways and pavements
  • Dangerous and broken playground equipment
  • Defects in the playing surface of ball fields and playgrounds

One key consideration in pursuing a case is determining who is responsible. It would be wrong to assume that a park within New York City falls within the sole jurisdiction of the City. This may not be the case, and there may be other responsible parties.

Most public parks in New York City are owned and operated by the City. For example, Central Park and Prospect Park. However, there has been a trend for new parks to be owned by the City while being operated by a separate, non-profit corporation. For example, the High Line Park, a former elevated freight rail line, is owned by the City but is operated by Friends of the High Line. In an accident on the High Line, the private corporation might ultimately be liable.

On a similar note, the Hudson River Park in Manhattan, which runs along the river from downtown to the 60”s, is owned and operated by a public benefit corporation, The Hudson River Park Trust. It is a partnership between the City and State. A lawsuit should include the Trust.

Although most state parks are outside of New York City, such as Harriman Park in upstate, there are a few state parks within the City. For example, The Riverbank State Park is in Harlem on the Hudson River. The City does not operate Riverbank State Park.

Finally, there are a couple federal public parks within the City. The best examples are the Statute of Liberty Park and the Gateway National Recreation Center in Brooklyn. These cases must be brought in the federal courts.

The determination of the responsible parties determines our time limits for filing notices of claim, notices of intent to make a claim, and the lawsuit.

Clients should be aware that prompt retention of an attorney and investigation is essential in view of the short time limits involved in pursuing a case. For example, in the case of New York City parks, we must file a notice of claim with the City within 90 days of the accident.

Case example: Jim, visiting from Albany, tripped and fell over broken pavement in Central Park. The pavement was broken due to the roots of an adjoining tree. Jim’s hip was fractured, and he required surgery. His case was settled.

Case example: Young Joyce (11 years old) was injured when she was on a newly-installed swing in a newly-constructed City playground. The swing’s tire seat was positioned too close to the ground causing the client to fracture her leg. This is a case of defective design and installation of the swing, and the manufacturer is a party of the case. Other children have been injured on this swing, and the City has removed the equipment to prevent further injuries. Our pending lawsuit is against both the City and swing manufacturer. This story was covered by CBS News.

Case example: Pablo was playing softball on a grass field. When rounding the bases he fell on a sewer cap which was both depressed and covered by grass. He sustained an ankle fracture. His case was settled.

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