Thursday, June 19, 2014

Research Q of the Week: Encouraging the Parks & Rec Tradition in MN Cities


Question: Spring has sprung, school is out, and people of all ages are enjoying city parks and rec programs. But what is the city’s liability exposure if someone is injured while using a city park or recreational program?

Answer: It should come as no surprise that people who use city parks and participate in city recreational programs—whether they be young children or weekend warriors—occasionally get injured. Fortunately, cities have statutorily granted immunity from lawsuits based upon the construction, operation, or maintenance of any property owned or leased by the city for park purposes, including trails and paths, ball fields, courts, and open recreation areas. The immunity also extends to lawsuits based upon the city’s provision of recreational services. This immunity is commonly referred to as park and recreational immunity.

There is an exception to park and recreational immunity—and a little common sense points directly to it. Cities still have a duty to warn of hidden, artificial conditions on park property that they know are likely to cause death or serious bodily injury and can be liable if a person is injured because the city failed to warn of the condition’s existence.

When it created park and recreational immunity, the state Legislature balanced preserving Minnesota’s bountiful outdoor recreational resources (an important part of what makes it so great to live here) and the need to compensate injured persons. The result was a law that encourages cities to provide parks and recreational services by limiting their liability exposure.

Now that warm weather has arrived, we can all get out and take advantage of the great parks our cities have to offer!

For more information about city park and recreational facilities see the League of Minnesota Cities Parks and Recreation Loss Control Guide.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.  

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