I was skating at the local ice rink when a kid mowed me down.  I broke my ankle.  Can I sue the rink owners and get them to pay my medical bills?

It is unlikely. The case Brust v. Ice Ventures, Inc., 167 N.C.App. 370, 605 S.E.2d 267 (2004) bears similar facts.  The plaintiff was skating at the Cary Ice House when someone knocked her over, causing her to incur a skull fracture.  There were no witnesses to the actual fall, and the plaintiff had no recollection due to her resulting injury.  The plaintiff alleged that the rink did not have proper monitoring of the public session.  As reported in the court's decision, which granted summary judgment for the defense:

To establish a prima facie case of negligence, a plaintiff must have evidence that defendant owed her a duty of care, that defendant's conduct breached that duty, that the breach was the actual and proximate cause of plaintiff's injury, and that she suffered damages resulting from the negligently caused injury.  See Lamm v. Bissette Realty, 327 N.C. 412, 416, 395 S.E.2d 112, 115 (1990). 

Owners and operators of land are under a duty to act with reasonable care towards all lawful visitors. Nelson v. Freeland, 349 N.C. 615, 631-32, 507 S.E.2d 882, 892 (1998).  This duty is breached when the landowner does not take reasonable precautions to ascertain the condition of the property and does not either make it reasonably safe or give warnings as may be reasonably necessary to inform a lawful visitor of any foreseeable danger.  Lorinovich v. K-Mart Corp., 134 N.C.App. 158, 161-62, 516 S.E.2d 643, 646 (1999).  For a defendant to be liable, its negligent conduct must be the actual and proximate cause of damages to the plaintiff.  Adams v. Mills, 312 N.C. 181, 192-93, 322 S.E.2d 164, 172 (1984).

In upholding the summary judgment for the defendant, the court stated, "[T]he record is bereft of any evidence tending to support a causal nexus between defendant's allegedly negligent conduct and plaintiff's damages.  Specifically, there is no evidence tending to show how or why plaintiff fell on the ice or what caused this fall."

If you know who knocked you over, you may have better luck pursuing the child or the child's parents to get reimbursement for your damages.  As always, consult with an attorney about your specific case.


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