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Welcome to Vegas Lawyer. This site is for people who were hurt in Nevada. Contact us for a free consultation. You may want to read the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law introduction on our home page. Also, you can get an overview of other claims like Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents, Slip & Fall, and Products Liability before you explore the Article below.

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Injuries On Government Land

Each year, dozens of children and adults are injured or killed from accidents that occur at active and inactive underground mines, sinkholes, pits and quarries. Nationally, in 1999 alone, 17 people died in non-mining accidents on mine property, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration. Three additional fatalities have occurred as of March 2000.

In addition to fatalities, serious injuries related to AML safety hazards also continue to occur. Most of these hazards comprise adits and other mine openings, often hundreds of feet deep. Leftover storage buildings, mill structures, equipment, debris, piles of tailings and waste rock, oil and chemical storage drums are typically found at AML sites. Vertical shafts and openings may be partially covered by vegetation to the point where a person may not even see the hole in the ground before stepping into it. People who enter mine openings may not become aware of deadly gases and lack of oxygen until it is too late to escape.

The potential for injuries and deaths to continue to occur each year increases as western population sprawl and recreational use of public lands increase, bringing the public into contact with heretofore isolated AML sites. Moreover, when injuries occur on BLM-managed lands, liability risks can ensue against the United States. Persons who become injured while visiting AML sites on public lands can attempt to recover from the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq. With certain exceptions, the FTCA provides that the United States will be liable for death, personal injury, or property damage caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission by the United States.

Recently, the BLM was involved in a tort claim settlement resulting from an accident that occurred when two individuals were injured after entering an abandoned mine in proximity to a BLM recreation site. The settlement cost the United States an amount well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. At this particular site, the BLM had placed a sign reading "Day Use Only - No Overnight Camping" in the general area where the AML site was located. Plaintiffs argued that the sign posting could have created an invitation for public use and a corresponding expectation that the area was safe for use.

To enhance public safty on BLM lands, the BLM is initiating proactive risk management actions aimed at reducing the potential for fatalities and injuries associated with AML sites to occur especially at high visitation area. If carried out effectively, a concurrent reduction in potential liability can also result. The liability of the United States is generally determined by the law of the State where the injury occurred. Because State law generally defines the duty owed to a member of the public, the exact allegation of negligence can vary from claim to claim, but the three most common allegations of negligence in cases involving hazardous land conditions are:

(1) failing to guard against the hazard;

(2) failing to warn against the hazard; and

(3) failing to give adequate warning against the danger.

Even without further survey efforts, the BLM's Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (AMLIS) presently has more than 8,600 site records, and the inventory continues to grow as newly-identified sites are found during normal field work. Even the present inventory of known sites in need of cleanup is far more than the Bureau can respond to given limited fiscal resources.

Presently, State and Field Offices have been finding ways to address AML physical safety hazards chiefly through use of funds from the programs associated with the hazard. The recent tort claim experience now necessitates the need to establish priorities. National guidance is now being issued to guide the State and Field Offices on setting priorities for these cleanups in order to ensure consistency in priority throughout the Bureau. This IM establishes policies by which the BLM can assess its resource needs and begin to address the above three criteria. In determining appropriate mitigation and remedial measures, Field Offices may consider the design and construction standards used by their counterpart State or Tribal AML reclamation agency as useful guidelines.

This information came from a
US BLM online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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