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Appellate Court Determines City Is Not Entitled to Immunity After Errant Golf Ball Strikes Infant

Posted in Firm News

Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a personal injury case dealing with recreational use immunity as it applies to injuries occurring on government-owned land. Ultimately, the court determined that the defendant city was not entitled to immunity despite the fact that the plaintiff’s injuries occurred on government-owned land.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the mother of a child who was struck by an errant golf ball while in a stroller. At the time of the accident, the mother was walking her son along a path owned and maintained by the city. The path abutted a golf course. After the accident, the mother filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the golf course as well as the city. The plaintiff’s claim against the city was based on the fact that the city knew that the golf course presented a hazard to people using the path but failed to do anything to remedy that danger.

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the city claimed that it was immune from liability based on the state’s trail immunity statute. Essentially, the trail immunity statute prevents a government entity from being held liable when a person is injured on a trail that was open to the public for general recreational purposes. In this case, the city argued that the walkway constituted a “trail” under the statute, and immunity should be granted.

The court determined that the city was not entitled to immunity. First, the court noted that for the purposes of this case, it was going to assume that the public walkway was a “trail” as defined under the statute. However, the court explained that the trail immunity statute only grants immunity to injuries that occur due to a hazard “on” the trail. Here, the hazard was caused by a third party.

This wasn’t the first case raising this type of issue, and the court went into detail discussing how the facts of this case fit into the reasoning used in prior cases. Essentially, the court will look at the relationship between where the injury occurred and the government trail. If the hazard was part of the trail or was related to the nature of the trail, immunity would be appropriate. However, in this case, in which the government-owned trail is completely separated from the hazard, immunity is not appropriate.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another person or business, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. You may even be entitled to compensation if the injury occurred while on land owned by a local, state, or federal government entity. To learn more about how you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, contact the Fine Law Firm at 505-889-FINE. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have decades of collective experience representing injured New Mexicans in a wide range of personal injury cases. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation to pay us unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Appellate Court Finds Lower Court Erred in Granting Summary Judgment to Fast Food Restaurant in Slip-and-Fall Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 11, 2017.

The Concept of Vicarious Liability in New Mexico Car Accidents, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 27, 2017.