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Student’s Case Against School Dismissed After Falling from School Zip Line

Posted in Firm News

In a recent case, a state supreme court recently considered whether a student could sue the school district after she fell from a zip line at her elementary school playground. A nine-year-old girl and her parents filed a tort claim against the school district after the girl fell while using a zip line at the playground, fracturing her wrist and forearm.

The school claimed it was immune from liability under the state’s Governmental Immunity Act. Under the Act, public entities such as a school district are generally immune from lawsuits unless the claim falls under one of the exceptions. The parents argued that one exception did apply:  the recreation-area waiver. The waiver provides that a public entity can be held liable for injuries resulting from a dangerous condition of a public facility located in a park or recreation area maintained by a public entity.

The court first determined that the playground, which was part of the school, qualified as a public facility under the waiver. However, the court held that a piece of playground equipment that was not negligently constructed or maintained could not be a dangerous condition under the waiver.

The parents argued that the zip line was inherently dangerous and that it alone created a dangerous condition. But the court explained that the parents were required to show that the zip line contained a physical defect caused by the school district’s negligent construction or maintenance. Since the parents failed to do so, they failed to show a dangerous condition as required under the waiver. In this case, the zip line was not negligently constructed or maintained, and thus it was not considered a dangerous condition under the waiver, so the court dismissed the case.

Governmental Immunity

Generally, the state of New Mexico is immune from tort liability, as stated in the Tort Claims Act. This means that a public entity is immune from lawsuits unless the claim meets one of the exceptions under the Act. The New Mexico legislature has defined certain exceptions that make entities liable in some circumstances. One exception under New Mexico law is the building waiver. The waiver makes public entities liable for damages caused by the negligence of public employees acting within the scope of their duties in the operation of a building, public park, machinery, equipment, or furnishings. That is, immunity is waived when, because of the alleged negligence of public employees, an injury arose from an unsafe, dangerous, or defective condition on the property.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Bringing personal injury claims against public entities can be a daunting task. Public entities are sure to fight your claim at every step of the way. If you believe you may have a claim against a public entity, contact the Fine Law Firm for advice. Our goal is to provide services that will maximize our clients’ compensation and help direct them through an often-complicated legal system. Contact our office for a free initial consultation to discuss your claim by calling 800-640-6590 or by filling out our online form.

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.

Court Finds that Comparative Negligence Does Not Apply in Crashworthiness Cases, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2017.