Last April, a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit was released by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The suit which was filed against the federal government alleged that the United States Forest Services was negligent in the maintenance of bike trails. The court ultimately rejected the claims stating that the alleged practice of negligence was covered under governmental immunity.
The incidence took place in the De Soto National Forest where the plaintiff and her friend came for a biking trip. They were mountain biking on a closed trail, the Couch Loop Trail and would not stop even where there was an obvious notice of closure. Rather than stop at the trailhead bulletin board, the bikers chose to ride the trail and took an alternate route to the left.
Soon after taking the alternate route, they came stumbled on an obstruction set up by a local bike association. The accident occurred when the plaintiff tried to maneuver her way through one of the obstacles. The Plaintiff cited the negligence of the Forest Service in its maintenance of the bike trails as the cause of the accident when she filed a premises liability lawsuit against the U.S government. According to her, the Forest Service was aware of the potentially dangerous conditions present on the trails and failed to warn her.
The court dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit after determining that the U.S government was entitled to government immunity. According to the court, failures to act or negligent acts can be protected by government immunity in certain circumstances. Government liability may not be based on the discretionary acts of government employees especially when it has to do with the considerations of political, economic, or social public policy.
Basically, the alleged acts of negligence were discretionary as determined by the court. According to the court, there was no need for a specified method of maintenance from the Forest Service despite being mandated to ensure the safety of the trails. Also, when determining how the trails can be maintained, the forest rangers are free to use their own judgment.
In conclusion, the court declared that the government was entitled to immunity since the decisions of the Forest Service were based on considerations of political, economic, or social public policy. To this end, the plaintiff’s case was overruled and no process was afterward attempted for trial.
Though governments are entitled to immunity, there are several other situations where this does not apply. Many people are yet to know that they may be entitled to monetary compensation if injured on a government property. Do well to contact a dedicated personal injury attorney today, if you or a loved one has been injured on government property.
A personal injury attorney can help you file your premises liability case against local, state, or federal government agencies.