01 November, 2018
In 2015 the claimant attended a skate park owned by the defendant accompanied by a guardian. The 11-year-old claimant was scooting along the street section of the park, consisting of a drop down ramp to a flat bank which included a grind rail, when he came off his scooter and hit his knee on the grind rail. The grind rail is a steel pole resting on legs and is a common feature in skate parks all over the world. The claimant alleged that he lost control because he suddenly saw the grind rail and swerved to avoid it. His left knee impacted on the rail and he suffered a laceration below his knee leaving him with a scar.
The claimant sought to argue that the grind rail was not visible (despite being of contrasting colour to the surrounding floor area) and that the defendant was at fault for failing to risk assess the rail. The Judge found that it would not be practical or logical to risk assess every piece of equipment within the skate park. The mere presence of the grind rail did not place a duty for the accident on the occupier.
The Judge concluded that the grind rail would have been clear and obvious to the claimant. He had been to other skate parks where he had would have seen similar grind rails. The skate park had been in operation for three years and there had been no other similar accidents or complaints. This was a very unfortunate accident but the rail did not present a hazard or a foreseeable risk of injury.
The Judge stated: "Let it be said that just because an accident occurs it does not necessarily give rise to a duty by the occupier. Accidents can and do happen."
The claim failed.
Activities which commonly occur at skate parks such as scooting, skate boarding and BMXing bear an element of risk. Whilst scooting is not a dangerous activity per se, the judge described that there is an element of thrill which is part of the reason why young people enjoy the activity. Users of the skate park are explicitly warned of the risks prior to accessing the park and as such users are fully aware of the risks involved and therefore must accept a degree of responsibility for any accidental injuries which may occur.