State of Illinois Legal Duty to Maintain and Supervise Its Parks

The State of Illinois owes a duty to the public to exercise reasonable care in establishing, maintaining and supervising its parks. (Kamin v. State (1953), 21 Ill. Ct. Cl. 467.) In Kamin, supra, the Court recognized this rule, but denied the claim of a person using a hiking trail who fell from the trail into a canyon when it was conceded that the canyon was plainly visible, and that Claimant had assumed the risks inherent in the sport of hiking, particularly where the risks were obvious and the absence of guardrails in proximity to a dangerous portion of the path could be seen. In Damermuth v. State (1966), 25 Ill. Ct. Cl. 353, the Court again recognized the duty of the State to members of the general public to exercise ordinary care to protect them from harm in a State park. In Damermuth the Claimant fell into a concrete drainage culvert that was not protected and was in an area people were known to frequent after dark. The Court stated as follows: "Although the State is not an insurer of the safety of those who make use of the park facilities, the State must exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of its parks, and in supervising the use thereof by the public. "In Wightman v. State (1978), 32 Ill. Ct. Cl. 546, the Court held that visitors to State parks are invitees to whom the State owes a duty of reasonable care in maintaining the premises. Once again, this was a walkway accident where the claimant had tripped over a metal divider supporting two paved areas. The Court stated, "this Court has held that the State of Illinois is not an insurer of safety of persons who visit its parks and recreation areas." (32 Ill. Ct. Cl. 546, 547.) In Pearlman v. State (1979), 33 Ill. Ct. Cl. 28, 31, this Court again reiterated that, "The State of Illinois is not an insurer and before the Respondent can be liable for Claimant's injury it must be shown by the preponderance or the greater weight of the evidence that a dangerous and defective condition existed and that the Respondent knew or should have known of said defective and dangerous condition."