Liability Concerns, Cities To Limit Sledding [Pic]

Submitted by: dromed 2 years ago in

In this  Dec. 11, 2013 file photo Zoe Reisen,10, of Dubuque, Iowa, sleds down a hill at Allison-Henderson Park on in Dubuque, Iowa. Faced with the...

In this Dec. 11, 2013 file photo Zoe Reisen,10, of Dubuque, Iowa, sleds down a hill at Allison-Henderson Park on in Dubuque, Iowa. Faced with the potential bills from people who are injured sledding, Dubuque is one of the cities across the country the is opting to close hills rather than face the risk of large liability claims. (AP Photo/The Telegraph Herald, Jessica Reilly, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) As anyone who has grown up around snow knows, part of the fun of sledding is the risk of soaring off a jump or careening around a tree.

But faced with the potential bill from sledding injuries, some cities have opted to close hills rather than risk large liability claims.

No one tracks how many cities have banned or limited sledding, but the list grows every year. One of the latest is in Dubuque, Iowa, where the City Council is moving ahead with a plan to ban sledding in all but two of its 50 parks.

"We have all kinds of parks that have hills on them," said Marie Ware, Dubuque"s leisure services manager. "We can"t manage the risk at all of those places."

A study by Columbus, Ohio-based Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children"s Hospital found that between 1997 and 2007, more than 20,000 children each year were treated at emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries.

In meetings leading up to the ban, Dubuque council members lamented the move but said it was the only responsible choice given liability concerns and demands from the city"s insurance carrier. They pointed to judgments in sledding lawsuits in the past decade, such as a $2 million judgment against Omaha, Nebraska, after a 5-year-old girl was paralyzed when she hit a tree and a $2.75 million payment when a man in Sioux City, Iowa, slid into a sign and injured his spinal cord.

Some cities have opted for less drastic measures in the last several years rather than an all-out ban, including Des Moines, Iowa; Montville, New Jersey; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Columbia City, Indiana. By banning sledding on certain slopes or posting signs warning people to sled at their own risk, cities lessen their liability if someone is seriously hurt, but they"re still more vulnerable to lawsuits than if they had adopted an outright ban.

And then there"s the small central Illinois city of Paxton, where park district officials removed the sledding hill in 2013.

It was more of a dirt mound, created years ago to cover a pile of concrete, metal and other junk, recreation director Neal McKenry said, but given how flat the area is, the 20-foot rise often was crowded with sledders. There was concern someone would slam into trees that had grown on the mound.

"Obviously, many people used this area to sled in the winter, but the park district never promoted it as a sled hill," McKenry said. "It was simply a built-up mound of dirt that people happened to sled on." The area is now being used as a dog park.

In Omaha, the city banned sledding at a popular hill as a test one winter after losing a lawsuit, but decided to allow it again after most people ignored the restriction.

"It wasn"t practical," assistant city attorney Tom Mumgaard said. "People wouldn"t abide by the ban."

Instead, the city has posted signs warning of sledding risks and workers at the site of the failed ban put pads around posts and hay bales around trees. Mumgaard said courts in Nebraska have decided cities must protect people, even if they make poor choices.

Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits, said Kenneth Bond, a New York lawyer who represents local governments. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.

"It"s a great idea on the frontier, but we don"t live on the frontier anymore," Bond said.

That doesn"t sit well with Natasha Koss, 40, who frequently sleds with her 5-year-old daughter Elsa in Marquette, Michigan.

Koss sometimes requires Elsa to wear a helmet. When they try a particular hill for the first time, her husband does a few runs solo as a precaution. She said she"d report any safety issues to city authorities but couldn"t imagine filing suit over a sledding mishap.

"I would most certainly take personal responsibility," she said. "You need to have a mindset to make the best decisions for your own safety."

However, Steve King, who runs a website that promotes sledding, said he understands why cities impose restrictions. He notes that most sledders don"t wear helmets and it"s near impossible to steer away from trees, rocks or signs.

"We live in a lawsuit-happy society and cities are just being protective by banning sledding in areas that pose a risk for injury or death," King said.


Don"t eat the yellow snow and don"t slide on the white stuff either!
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There are 16 comments:
Male 1,535
EVERY male mayor in EVERY city/town that this happens in, should just admit he is a sissified wimp and likes to wear high heels and French maid`s uniform while his wife goes out on dates with real men. seriously. Just admit your micro phallus
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Male 1,449
Between Lawyers and Pussy Assed Parents who do not want to be held accountable for their own actions, the planet is going to hell.
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Male 14,331
[quote]...England`s going that way... not just America. America just seems to be the innovators.[/quote]

What guns can you own again? Ya it`s a big problem though.
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Male 228
Better idea: Shoot the lawyers and any judge that hears these stupid cases.
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Male 2,586
lol America.

Where the words *at fault* mean anyone but the dumb-ass doing the stupid.

Fell off your sled - sue the hill owner
Fell of the kerb - sue the council
Burned yourself on boiling coffee - sue the restaurant that boiled it

...England`s going that way... not just America. America just seems to be the innovators.
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Male 5,872
Just bulldoze the whole lot flat, problem solved.
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Male 3,231
Im sorry, we could find enough bubble wrap to cover every square foot of the planet.
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Male 41,551
Lawyers ruin everything! And laws cater to the "lowest common denominator" of the most stupid people out there.

Sliding down snowy hills is dangerous, but also lots of fun! It`s sad that 1% ruin it for the other 99%...
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Male 1,497
I`d totes be up for jury duty.
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Female 154
I`m from Iowa and this is just stupid!!! How many kids have gotten hurt and their parents never sued the city because of it. I believe it is no different than swimming in public places, swim at your own risk...The same goes for sledding!!! WTH!!!
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Female 4,645
@MeGrendel Dead on... EVERY problem we have in the US/World today can be traced back to Lawyers. High medical costs, BS in both congress and houses, 0bamacare, common core, (and presidencies) (I can`t even rule out radical islam, because they`re supported by lawyerscum too)
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Male 8,777
Mikeoxsbiggg-[quote]So they can`t afford a "use at your own risk" sign?[/quote]
Sure they can, but they`ll get sued anyway. And given a trail of their peers (who were too stupid to get out of jury duty) they will still loose millions. Because not matter how many signs, the lawyers will argue (and idiots will agree) that SOMEone be held responsible (as long as that SOMEone is not the plaintiff)
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Male 8,777
This is what we get for living in a Litigious Nation. No personal responsibility, no chance of fun, all business & cities have two worry that someone will stub their toe and sue for millions.

And the sad thing is their worries are more than justified.

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Male 1,497
So they can`t afford a "use at your own risk" sign?
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Male 1,412
Excessive litigation, or the fear thereof, is just sucking the fun out of everything.
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Male 2,713
Link: Liability Concerns, Cities To Limit Sledding [Pic] [Rate Link] - Don`t eat the yellow snow and don`t slide on the white stuff either!
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