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What Is A Recreational Use Law?


In Florida, there is quite a lot of land devoted to recreational purposes, be it governmental, privately owned, or commercial, Because of this, the question often comes up as to the degree of liability owed by the maintainers and possessors of that land if someone is injured. If you have been injured on someone else’s land, you may be able to bring suit under a theory of premises liability, but some suits are precluded by what is called a recreational use law. It is important to understand the nature of this law and the situations to which it applies.

The Basics

Generally, property owners or maintainers have a duty of care toward those who enter onto the land. Depending on the class of the person, that duty can range from actively ensuring the property is made safe, to simply refraining from actively harming the person. Invitees merit the highest standard of care, requiring a business or landowner to actively fix or at least warn of dangers that exist on the land. Most guests at theme parks are considered invitees, hence the numerous signs and warnings at places like Disney World.

Trespassers, by comparison, are merely owed the courtesy of the landowner refraining from harming them (unless they are children, in which case several legal exceptions apply). Licensees are the middle class of entrants, and they are owed the landowner maintaining the property so as to keep it reasonably safe. There are two classes of licensee – an invited licensee, which is usually a social guest, and an uninvited licensee, who is on the property for their own purposes (an example might be a door-to-door salesman).

The Recreational Use Exception

The rules about duty can be complex, which can sometimes deter people from opening their land to others. In order to help minimize the deterrence factor of premises liability law, the Florida legislature instituted a recreational use statute which limits the liability of people who open their land to the public free of charge. It must be free of charge – the recreational use statute does not apply to commercial recreational sites like Disney World or Busch Gardens. The law holds that anyone who comes onto land protected by the statute does so at their own risk – the owner has no duty to make the property safe – and no duty of care to warn about hazardous conditions is owed.

There are two exceptions to this statute, under which an injury may result in liability to the landowner. The first is if the owner still gets some kind of economic benefit out of opening their land even if no admission charge is collected – if they sell souvenirs, for example. The second exception is if the property, though privately owned, is covered by a governmental contract to open the land. In that sort of situation, the property owner would not be liable, but the state conceivably might be.

Call Our Attorneys Today

Being able to be outside during a Florida summer, doing things you love, is a special experience. However, if something happens to you, it is important to understand the circumstances in which you can bring suit against someone for their alleged negligence and those in which you cannot. If you have questions, calling our Tampa premises liability lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group can help get them answered. Contact us today to set up an appointment.




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