Los Angeles is home to some of the finest hiking and outdoor trails.
Whether it’s Franklin Canyon, Griffith Park, or Runyon Canyon (pictured), the mountains in and around Los Angeles are world-famous and attract celebrities, novices, and seasoned athletes.
But what happens if someone is injured while exercising in one of these parks? Can the City be held liable for injuries suffered on a hiking trail or path?
The answer lies in Civil Code Section 846.
846 is known as the “recreational immunity statute.” It shields the government from liability in cases where someone is injured while using the property for recreational purposes. These include fishing, camping, water sports, hiking, or viewing or enjoying scenic sites.
The recreational immunity statute protects cities and government entities by encouraging them to open their vast land resources for the public’s enjoyment.
The government might otherwise restrict the public’s access to these parks if they were held liable for personal injuries suffered while using these public parks. (Armenio v. County of San Mateo, 28 Cal.App.4th, 413, 417.)
A corollary to the recreational immunity statute is another form of immunity, called “trail immunity.” It holds that the government is not liable for injuries suffered while hiking on an unpaved trail, walkway, path, or sidewalk.
The takeaway is that in most circumstances, those who are injured while enjoying Runyon Canyon or any other recreational park will most likely be prevented from suing the government for their injuries.
There are a few exceptions to recreational immunity. Contact an attorney for questions and to find out whether these exceptions are applicable in your case.