The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Camper Killed by Falling Tree at Bull's Island State Park Campsite

A tree fell on a tent at a campsite in Bull's Island State Park killing a camper and critically injuring his wife.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a Sycamore tree weighing thousands of pounds fell on the family's tent crushing the man to death and injuring his wife in the early morning hours. The couple's 12-year old daughter, a 10-year old son, and a 9-year old nephew were not injured.

Police and park officials are still investigating the incident, but an accident like this leads one to ask if the accident could have been prevented and if anyone bears responsibility.

Generally, a tree falling is an act of nature, and people are not responsible for any injuries that may result.

But because Bull’s Island State Park runs a campground for the public, they may owe a duty to keep their park safe and they may be responsible for injuries that occur because of dangerous conditions.

Once you invite members of the public onto your land, you are creating a legal relationship where you now owe the visitor a duty to keep your property relatively safe. For a campground, this can include warning visitors of hazards like falling rocks and hidden cliffs, and also taking preventative steps like pruning rotten branches and cutting down dying trees.

If you allow dangerous conditions to fester, and these dangerous conditions cause injury, you may be liable in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

It is too soon to know whether unsafe maintenance or careless oversight led to the Sycamore tree falling in Bull’s Island State Park that killed a camper. However, the family of the victim may have a legal claim despite the falling tree being an act of nature.

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