Berkeley’s Aquatic Park Draws Scrutiny for Dangerous Condition


Berkeley’s Aquatic Park Draws Scrutiny for Dangerous Condition

I’m Ed Smith, a Berkeley personal injury lawyer. Sometimes unknown dangers face children as they play, even in what is thought of as a safe playground. A field trip for kindergartners caused a fright to one mother at Aquatic Park in the spring while her son, age 5, was playing hide and seek with his school chums.

What Frightened the Child’s Mother

One of the chaperones at the school outing informed the child’s mother that the little boy had managed to climb out through an opening in the chain-link fence that runs next to the park. On the other side were the railroad tracks for the Union Pacific Railroad, which operates trains that pass through on a frequent basis. The child’s concerned mother wrote to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront in Berkeley; however, she did not receive any response. The child’s mother says her son goes to a summer camp that also visits the park and that the fence has not been repaired. While the board fence around the park area that measures 4-feet tall is in good condition, the chain-link fence behind it is dilapidated.

According to a Berkeley spokesman, surveying would be required to find out who had jurisdiction over the fence. He also said parks were not fenced normally. While many are placed adjoining a street, this one happened to be next to train tracks. The spokesman suggested that people should keep an eye on their children while at the park. A Union Pacific spokesperson said the broken down fence wasn’t the property of the railroad and that the fencing used by the railroad is a different type.

Maintenance and Safety in City Parks

Cities that provide parks for children to play in, such as Berkeley’s Parks Recreation and Waterfront Department, are required to keep parks safe and well maintained, so no harm can come to those who visit. However, even if mom or dad is keeping a close eye on their children, kids move fast, love to climb and like to explore. An innocent game of hide and seek can turn into tragedy. In this case, the city might avoid liability and better protect the children who come to the park by closing up gaps in the fencing, raising the fence higher so children can’t go over it and trimming back branches that overhang the fence, providing an easy access for children to climb over. 

Statute of Limitations

When filing a claim against the city for your injury, you have six months only to file. The city has 45 days to respond. If the claim is accepted, the injured person receives payment. However, if the claim is denied, an injured person or their representative has two years from the date of the denial to file a lawsuit claiming damages. Because suing a city department can be complicated, contacting an injury lawyer experienced in these matters is important. In addition, a lawyer can gather the needed evidence and consult an expert witness to present a strong case before the court. In the event of the death of a child on a playground, a lawyer can gather needed evidence to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.


Attorney Ed Smith

Berkeley Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Berkeley personal injury lawyer. If your child or a family member’s child has been injured in an accident on city, county or state property, please call me at (510) 631-0200. The advice I offer you is friendly and free. When phoning from outside the calling area, dial my office at (800) 404-5400.

Over the years since 1982, I and my legal team have helped many injured persons and their families in California, including Berkeley, obtain the compensation they deserve in traumatic injury cases and other types of personal injuries.

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