Hi again, and thank you for your responses. Thank you also for your patience as I was due into a meeting and we recently finished up, giving me the opportunity to complete my response. With regard to your information:
My husband broke his leg at a swim meet. The parents sit outside the pool and the hill is very steep. It had rained the night before and there was a rock The hill is almost 90 degrees and very hard to navigate. The company that owns the park called us and asked for a statement, then looked at the site. They wrote back that the area is open and they found no problem.
Do we have a claim against them?
1) my husband stood up walked 3-4 steps laterally across the hill, the rock was under left foot and it moved(the rock) causing him to fall down the hill
2) It is privately owned land That is good, because governmentally owned land often means governmental immunity.
3) It had rained the night before but it appeared dry but was not. OK.
In response to your question you could 1) change the grade of the hill so that people can have a path to walk What we need to find is where there was a duty to do something. Did they have a duty to make that area safer than it was? Once can argue that they knew that people view the sport from there, regularly. If they profit from the sport, all the better, because it is a little different than just being a social host, but a commercially driven and wanted invite for people to come. If the latter, there is typically a greater duty to keep those people reasonably safe. It would be different, however, if there was a safe place provided for the expected spectators and the person injured chose not to use it. That would make it tougher.
2) put up a sign that it can be slippery Would that area be more slippery, due to unforeseen slipperiness, than other places in general? As the devil's advocate here, consider that 1) not all property owners need to have slippery signs, so what makes this place different? not all park owners need every inch of their property signed up about potential slipperiness. However, you could argue that being a narrow walking area/path (I think?), and an adjacent steep drop, it would have been the act of reasonably prudent person to have either prohibited people there OR, yes, warned them to be careful, uneven terrain, slippery when wet, etc. In other words, the hill itself creates a great chance of injury if a place gets slippery (or even for the clumsy), than a flat walking area where a fall is only as far as one is tall. Here, the risk of a fall way farther than the height of a person is evident. Arguably, the more danger there is, the more likely a warning is appropriate to not be negligently omitting such a warning.
to watch your step 3) And that one is certainly NOT expensive, unlike redesigning the hillside.
remove the rock. True. Particularly if it was known to be unstable. You may want to find out if the prior victim also stepped on that stone, causing him to fall down the hill. If so, and if he reported it, that may provide the requiste notice to the owner that there was a dangerous condition.
There are 300 people since there are 150 swimmers and each has two or more parents. Instead of having park workers just park cars they could help with seating. Well, I am not sure helping with seating would prevent someone from falling who is walking, but it can certainly be considered.
My husband was looking through the gate for my daughter who was swimming at the time when he fell. Someone fell and was taken to the hospital the week before at the same area. We are new to the swim team so we had not heard that story or we would have been more careful.I understand.
I think there is certainly a possibility of a viable case, based on these facts. While I can't picture the terrain or area very well, there is a duty to maintain a reasonably safe premises when you invite people to use it, particularly so if it is a commercial type activity going on. It sounds like the walkarea was particlarly narrow, such that one wrong step and down the hill one goes. Combine that with the wetness and the unstable rock, and lack of signage reminding people that extra care may be required (even just the normal terrain alone, not including wetness or loose rocks), or lack of fencing, or plain old lack of providing an obvious safer area to watch the sport - and it could all add up to a remiss property owner.
Also, I note that you made no headway when you called the OWNER. Don't take it to heart - of course they must say that because any admission can be used against them in court. Ideally, you have video/photos of the area at the time of the fall; and/or witnesses, and/or if nothing else, get photos and video now, preferably when it is in a condition similar to that which you saw it at the time of the fall. You won't be pretending it is from the time of the fall, but would state that this is a later taken photo, taken of the same location as the fall, and with the same general conditions (i.e. it rained the night before). If the rock has not been removed, great. If it has been removed, you can indicate that the rock he fell on is missing from this picture....
I am glad you are going to visit a lawyer - he can help develope the evidence and get them to start taking it seriously.
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