Louisiana’s captivating state parks, like Chicot and Fontainebleau, showcase the state’s beautiful natural scenery, from tranquil lakes to sandy beaches. Visitors can admire the majestic cypress trees, explore historic architectural remains, and engage in outdoor activities like hiking, camping, bird watching, and kayaking.

State parks are generally considered safe places to spend time with family and friends. However, like national parks, which see an average of 330 deaths per year due to unintentional accidents, state parks can be the scene of serious injuries. These are often due to falls on poorly maintained trails, malfunctioning park equipment, and collisions between vehicles.

Contact our Louisiana premises liability lawyers at Dudley DeBosier if you’re hurt at a state park. We can help you understand who might be at fault and explain your legal options for pursuing compensation.

Possible Injuries in Louisiana State Parks

Visitors to Louisiana State Parks may face various injuries, from minor scrapes and insect bites to more serious accidents like falls or wildlife encounters. Typical scenarios that lead to serious injuries include:

  • Uneven Walkways: Walkways, stairs, and observation areas at visitor centers are susceptible to damage from weather elements, usage, or a lack of upkeep. If a visitor is injured because these areas were not well-maintained, the park might be held accountable for any injuries sustained.
  • Trail Maintenance Issues: Natural trails provide a path into the wilderness but require ongoing maintenance to stay safe for hikers. If these trails aren’t kept up, they can become dangerous with overgrown vegetation or fallen trees, increasing the risk of accidents. The park might be liable if it doesn’t keep these trails in good condition and someone gets hurt.
  • Failure to Close Hazardous Areas: State parks may have unsafe areas due to weather conditions, flooding, or other unforeseen circumstances. It is the responsibility of park authorities to close off these areas to prevent accidents. If they fail to do so and a visitor gets hurt, liability may fall on the park management.
  • Defective Equipment: State parks frequently offer kayaking, canoeing, or camping gear. If a visitor gets injured because of faulty equipment provided by the park or a third-party contractor, they could be responsible for the injuries.
  • Wildlife Encounters: In Louisiana state parks, the presence of various wildlife requires a balance between respecting their habitats and ensuring visitor safety. Park authorities are responsible for implementing preventive measures to avoid hazardous interactions between visitors and wildlife. Neglecting this could lead to injuries, potentially making the park accountable.

Can You Seek Compensation for Injuries in a State Park?

If you’re injured in a state park, you might have the option to seek compensation. In Louisiana, any claims against government bodies, like state parks, are governed by the Louisiana Governmental Claims Act.

To have a valid claim, you must demonstrate that the government agency in charge of the state park failed to mitigate or remove dangerous conditions that contributed to the injury. For example, you trip and injure yourself due to a walkway in disrepair, a problem the park was aware of but didn’t fix or warn about with signage. With the help of a skilled attorney, you could file a claim against the park to hold them liable for your injuries.

However, if you sustained an injury after disregarding warning signs and straying from the designated path, you couldn’t hold the park accountable, as your injuries were not a result of the park’s negligence.

Louisiana also places a cap on general damages recoverable from government entities, including those managing the state parks, which is set at $500,000.

How to File a Claim Against a State Park

Filing a personal injury claim against a state park requires the help of an experienced premises liability attorney. Our team at Dudley DeBosier can help you take the following steps:

  • Evidence Collection: Our team can collect all the required evidence, which may include photographs of the accident scene showing the hazard that caused the injury, comprehensive medical records describing your injuries, and statements from witnesses. This helps us build a strong case and prove the park acted negligently.
  • Identify the Managing Entity: We can identify the state department responsible for the park and file the appropriate claim. For example, you may be able to file against the Louisiana Office of State Parks and Recreation as well as a third-party company or specific park employee. 
  • Notice of Claim Preparation: Our attorneys can prepare and file a detailed notice of claim on your behalf, outlining the incident, establishing negligence, and documenting your injuries and financial losses.
  • Filing Within Statutory Deadlines: We ensure your claim is filed within the legally mandated timeframe.
  • Response and Negotiation: After filing, we initiate communication with the state entity, which includes engaging in negotiations to secure a fair settlement to compensate you for your injuries.

Receive Fair Compensation and Protect Your Rights

Understanding liability for injuries in state parks can be complex, especially when dealing with potential claims against government entities. Experienced legal representation can increase your chances of compensation for your injuries.

Arrange a free consultation with Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers to explore your possibilities for compensation.

Disclaimer: This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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