Some Eastern Iowa Communities Consider Changes to Sledding Rules

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Some eastern Iowa communities are considering changes in sledding rules on city owned property in order to avoid lawsuits. If a sledder gets hurt on city property, it could end up costing taxpayers.

In 2008, a man sued Sioux City after a sledding accident. He injured his spinal cord when he slid backwards into a parking sign.The city ended up paying him almost half a million dollars.

The town of Boone also had to close a sledding hill after a woman was injured there.The woman was paid $12 million in a settlement.

Those sledding accidents raised concerns in the Iowa Legislature.
A bill last year would have limited a city's liability when a sledder is injured on public property. The House approved it, but it died in the Senate.

Now Dubuque could consider its own ordinance to protect the city from sledding injury lawsuits. City attorneys are considering tightening up the rules. If someone gets hurt here while breaking those rules, the city wouldn't be responsible.

Dubuque's City Attorney Barry Lindahl says he's currently researching an ordinance that would limit where on public property people can sled. Lindahl says that ordinance would likely include a ban on sledding after dark and ban the use of inner-tubes and head first sledding on city property.

"We will post signs that say 'If you are going to sled in this area, then you agree to assume any responsibility for any injury,' and you also agree to abide by these rules," Lindahl said.

Dyersville is also discussing sledding safety. On Monday night, the city council heard from a resident who's concerned about small children sledding at Candy Cane Park. The top of that hill sits along a busy curve on 8th Avenue Southeast. Some residents fear a child could get hit by a car while sledding there and the city would be liable.

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