Under some circumstances, a property owner may be liable for skateboarding injuries that occur on their property.
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Nearly anyone who has ridden a skateboard has taken at least a minor spill. Still, you might be surprised by how common skateboarding injuries are and how serious they can be. Of 33 sports at the Tokyo Olympics, skateboarding was in the top five for participant injuries. About 21% of competitors in Olympic skateboarding events were injured, compared with 9% of athletes competing in the games overall.
While Olympic-level skateboarding is faster-paced and more sophisticated than the tricks most skateboarders attempt, injuries aren’t limited to the pros. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), about 70,000 people visit emergency rooms each year as a result of skateboard-related injuries. The National Safety Council (NSC) puts that number much higher, at more than 245,000 in 2021.
Skateboarders can suffer a wide range of injuries. Wrist fractures are among the most common. Other relatively common skateboard injuries include cuts and lacerations, other arm injuries, concussions, and facial injuries.
Protecting Against Skateboard Injuries
There’s no way to make an activity like skateboarding 100% safe. But, there are precautions skateboarders and parents can take to reduce the risk of injury and minimize the extent of injuries. First, a significant percentage of skateboarders treated in hospital emergency rooms are very new to the sport. So, it’s especially important that newer skateboarders take safety precautions. And, it’s a good idea to avoid getting too ambitious until the rider has established a level of comfort and confidence with the board.
Other skateboard safety tips include:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under 6 shouldn’t skateboard–most kids don’t have the motor skills to do so safely at that age
- Kids 6-10 should be supervised
- Skateboarders should wear protective gear such as wrist braces, knee pads, and helmets
- Never wear headphones when skateboarding–it’s important to be able to hear what’s happening around you
- Stick to your skill level (and size)–younger kids should avoid sharing skate park space with older, larger, more skilled skateboarders
- Know the surfaces you’re skating on–broken concrete, rocks, and unexpected bumps can cause injury
- Wear closed-toe, non-slip shoes
- Know the best way to fall if a fall is unavoidable
Of course, not every skateboarder takes these precautions. And, sometimes accidents happen even when you’ve taken protective measures.
Who is Liable for Skateboard Accidents?
As in most personal injury situations, there are many possible responsible parties. For example:
- The skateboarder: Not all skateboard injury victims are skateboarding. A careless skateboarder may injure a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other person in the area. Or, one skateboarder may injure another. For example, a skateboarder might fail to look out for others around them before attempting a trick, or may attempt a trick that isn’t appropriate to the space. Or, they may injure someone by skateboarding in an area where skateboarding is prohibited for safety reasons.
- The property owner: Under some circumstances, a property owner may be liable for skateboarding injuries that occur on their property. For instance, the owner of a commercial skate park might be legally responsible for injuries that occurred on the premises if the accident was caused by negligent maintenance, a faulty set-up, or even failure to enforce safety rules. But, premises liability law is complex, and there are exceptions, which are described in greater detail below.
- An equipment manufacturer: If the board itself is defective in some way that makes it unreasonably dangerous or the manufacturer fails to warn the user of certain risks, the manufacturer may be responsible to an injured skateboarder or bystander. For example, in 2022 Future Motion recalled tens of thousands of OneWheel skateboards after receiving hundreds of reports that a footpad defect caused the boards to continue in motion without the rider, resulting in injuries to bystanders. The manufacturer of defective safety equipment may also be partially responsible, if the injury could have been prevented or less serious if the equipment had functioned as intended.
What if the Injured Skateboarder is Partly Responsible?
Skateboarding includes a degree of recognized risk, and it’s not unusual for skateboarders to take additional risk by skateboarding in an unsafe location, riding a board that hasn’t been properly maintained, trying a trick they aren’t ready for, or neglecting safety equipment.
Whether the injured person can collect damages in that situation depends on how much of the responsibility they bear and who else shares responsibility. If the injured skateboarder was more than 50% responsible, they won’t be able to recover damages from other responsible parties. But, if someone else was more than half responsible–or if two or more other parties share more than half of the responsibility–an injured person who contributed to their own injury can recover proportionate damages. For instance, if the skateboarder had $100,000 in damages and was 30% responsible, they would be responsible for 30% of their own costs ($30,000). But, they could potentially still receive $70,000 in damages from other responsible parties.
Premises Liability and Skateboard Injuries
Generally, Ohio property owners are required to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for those visiting the property. But, the standard of care is different depending on the reason the person is on the property. The highest duty is to a visitor to a business, which would include someone skating at a commercial park during business hours, having entered the property legally. But, the duty of a trespasser is greatly reduced. So, in many cases, a property owner would not be responsible if skaters illegally entered the property to skateboard without the owner’s knowledge.
Injuries at Government-Owned/Operated Skate Parks
Like many states, Ohio limits the liability of governmental entities and subdivisions. So, for example, a local skate park run by the city won’t necessarily have the same responsibility that a commercial skate park would. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have no recourse if you were injured at a public skate park. One exception to the protection for governmental entities is that they may be liable for damages “caused by the negligence of their employees and that occurs within or on the grounds of, and is due to physical defects within or on the grounds of, buildings that are used in connection with the performance of a governmental function…”
An Experienced Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer is Your Best Resource
Determining who is responsible for a skateboarding injury can be tricky, and proving it can be even more challenging. If you’ve been seriously injured while skateboarding or been injured by a skateboarder, your best next step is to consult an attorney who can explain your rights and potential claims. You can schedule a free consultation right now by calling 937-222-2222 or filling out the contact form on this page.
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