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National Parks and Daytona Beach Accident Lawyers

Mon, Aug 01, 2011 at 1:35PM


The fatal mauling of a hiker by a female grizzly bear in early July 2011 at Yellowstone National Park made headlines around the world, but it is just one of many accidents that happen in the nation’s National Parks every week.

The hiker’s death got our Daytona Beach accident lawyers wondering about the federal government’s liability in park accidents.

The U.S. parks system is huge and hugely popular, especially during the summer. For example, Yellowstone had total visitors between April and June 2011 of about 1.1 million, even though it’s in the remote northwest corner of Wyoming. It’s far from the most popular based on visitors. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is close to the big east coast population centers, had 1.12 million visitors in June 2011.

So, with the hundreds of national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, conservation areas and more, there are a lot of chances that accidents will occur. Here’s a sampling of reports in the 8-day period from July 21-28, 2011:

-  At Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, a 19-year-old was rescued after getting injuring just below the canyon rim.

-  At Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana, two mustangs with direct colonial Spanish heritage were killed by a suspected drunken driver.

-  A sick 15-year-old boy was evacuated from the back country to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

-  A motorcycle rider was killed on Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park in Montana.

-  Rangers had to rescues several climbers in separate incidents in July 2011 at Zion National Park in Utah.

-  A climber at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado had to be rescued after suffering high-altitude sickness.

-  An injured man had to be evacuated from Longs Peak at Rocky Mountain N.P. in Colorado.

-  Teen kayakers who capsized were rescued by rangers at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.

-  Fire damaged the visitor center at Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina.

-  A girl was injured in an apparent shark attack at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

Three visitors died after they were swept over Vernal Fall at Yosemite National Park in California.

There’s never a dull week for the National Park Service, but our Daytona Beach accident lawyers wonder whether the U.S. Department of the Interior needs an army of lawyers to protect it from lawsuits.

The short answer is no, you cannot sue the National Park Service for an accident at one of the nation’s parks, monuments, historic sites or others that occurs through no fault of the NPS. The federal government has sovereign immunity and cannot be sued unless it grants permission to be sued. That sounds strange, but Congress has approved statutes that do just that.

For example, you can sue based on a park employee’s misconduct. If a park employee was to taunt or agitate a grizzly bear that then attacked you, a lawsuit could be won. You could sue if you were in a traffic accident on a park road and you can prove the park service was negligent in not maintaining the road. Also, some statutes protect park employees. For example, a park employee or potential employee can sue if they can prove discrimination.

Our Daytona Beach accident lawyers can explain your rights in regards to an action against the federal government. Seitz & Tresher specializes in personal injury and wrongful death cases.


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