This week, The Ledger reported an incident involving a case of possible premises liability at the Lake Bonny skate park in Lakeland. Last month, as 13-year-old Christopher Walker was attempting a skateboarding maneuver in the park at 10 p.m., the facility’s outdoor lights suddenly switched off, plunging the area into darkness. As a result, the teen crashed and fell, fracturing the radius of his right arm. As of March 5th, the boy’s parents have notified Lakeland officials that they intend to seek damages for his injuries, alleging that the unfortunate accident occurred as a result of the city’s negligence.
David and Stephanie Walker claim that their son has endured “pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, and the expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment,” as a result of the accident.
Signs posted at the park remind the public that skating is an inherently dangerous activity, and warn that skaters using the facility do so at their own risk. According to city spokesperson Kevin Cook, the park is an “unmanned facility,” and the outdoor lights are controlled by an automatic timer. The Walkers acknowledge that park users can reasonably expect certain risks involved in skateboarding, but assert that it is irresponsible to assume that skaters will be aware of the hazards presented by the automatic shutoff of the facility’s lighting.
When an injury occurs on someone else’s property, it may be an instance of premises liability. In general, property owners have a responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe for visitors. Inadequate outside or inside lighting is one of many unsafe conditions that property owners are required to address. In most instances, property owners cannot be held liable for injuries that happened as a result of conditions that they were unaware of, or had no reason to know about. Additionally, anyone entering another person’s property must always practice reasonable care for their own safety.
Apart from providing evidence that they were hurt on another person’s property, the injured party must also prove that the premises was maintained in a negligible manner. Florida Statute 768.0755 describes how the injured person must prove that:
- The property owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition in question
- The property owner failed to remedy or give warning about the unsafe condition
- The injuries incurred happened as a result of the dangerous condition
Premises liability cases can be tough to prove, and gathering as much evidence as possible is essential to their success. The Ledger reports that video footage of the Lake Bonny skate park has been requested, but indicates that the park’s motion-activated security cameras may not have captured the incident. However, the teenager involved in the skate park accident was skating with a group whose members could possibly offer eyewitness testimony in the event that a lawsuit is filed.
For those unfamiliar with Lake Bonny Skate Park here’s a video from Lakeland showcasing the park.