Those who love hiking are typically aware of some of the common dangers involved in this sport. Getting lost on unfamiliar trails, getting separated from those whom you are hiking with or dealing with unexpected weather events. What many people do not know is that in Hawaii, the maintenance of trails is as important to hiker safety as the hiker obeying signs and staying on marked trails. While some events cannot be controlled, there are steps that must be taken to maintain trails to ensure they are safe for hikers.
There are some simple steps that those who maintain trails can take to help hikers stay safe. For example, making sure trails are properly marked, warning of slippery stone surfaces and of course, making sure areas where hikers may encounter lava flows have warning signs. However, there are preventative measures that trail maintenance teams may take to ensure hikers are not injured including:
- Trees and limbs – trees and limbs must be evaluated regularly for weaknesses that could cause limbs to come loose or trees to fall on hikers. This is especially true after major weather events that could cause damage to trees or cause limbs to come loose
- Trail conditions – trails should be cleared of obstructions that can occur during or after storms. In addition, muddy trails which can case slip and fall accidents should be clearly marked or covered with gravel to prevent falls
- Steep trails – in some cases, trails that are extremely steep may have steps with handrails attached to them to keep hikers safe. These trails should also be well marked so hikers are aware of the conditions
- Hazard areas – areas where hikers may face dangers from lava pools or hunters should be well marked at the beginning of the trail so hikers are aware of the potential dangers
When safety is ignored
Unfortunately, not all Hawaii trails are properly maintained and this may cause hidden dangers for hikers. Slip and fall accidents, crushing accidents from falling rocks where no signs were present or deadly falls from steep areas that were not clearly marked are just a few of the types of personal injury that hikers can face.
- Burns from lava – some hikers may be unaware of lava bursts that can cause burns
- Drowning accidents – bodies of water that are not clearly marked with proper warnings could result in drowning
- Broken bones – from falling limbs or rocks in areas that were poorly maintained
It is important to remember that hikers have a responsibility to pay attention to signs on trails. This includes warning signs, hazard signs and mile markers. When a hiker suffers and injury because of a poorly maintained trail, the first burden of proof that must be met is they did not contribute to their injuries by ignoring warning or hazard signs placed on a trail. Hikers who are traveling on their own should also be leaving information with someone to make sure if they do not come home on time, someone will attempt to find them.
Accidents can happen with hiking since trails often have natural hazards that cannot be controlled. Sudden changes in weather conditions can also cause unforeseeable problems for hikers. However, when the trails are not properly maintained and a hiker is injured, they should contact a personal injury attorney who understands premise liability law in Hawaii. An attorney can help you recover compensation for lost wages, medical care and prescription drug costs so you are not responsible for steeps bills as a result of poor maintenance on trails.