Premises Liability Cases and the “Recreational Use” Exception

Whenever a landowner invites others onto their land, the landowner assumes a duty of care to that person. Most commonly, this duty requires that the landowner take reasonable precautions to ensure that there are no dangerous conditions on their property that could result in injury to their guest. However, as is the case with most laws, there are exceptions when a landowner may be absolved from responsibility when someone injures themselves on the landowner’s property.

The Recreational Use Statute in Maryland

Maryland, like many other states, wants to encourage landowners to open their land for the general public to use and enjoy. In order to encourage this, the law grants landowners immunity from some lawsuits that may arise when someone comes onto their land and hurts themselves.

Generally speaking, the land must be open for free use by any member of the general public in order for the recreational use statute to apply. If it does not apply, the landowner may be held liable for injuries that occur on his or her land, even if the landowner was not aware of the condition himself.

Recent Case Illustrates How a Recreational Use Statute May Bar Recovery

In the case, Woody v. Pembina County Annual Fair & Exhibition Association, the plaintiff was hurt when she fell while attending a fireworks display on the defendant’s property. Evidently, the defendant was putting on a fireworks show and allowed guests to attend for free. Vendors were also allowed, but they had to pay a fee in order to sell their goods on the fairgrounds.

As the plaintiff was finding her seat in the grandstands, she stepped on a rotten board and fell through the floor. As a result of her fall, she sustained serious injuries. She then filed a premises liability lawsuit against the fairgrounds, alleging that it was negligent in failing to maintain the grandstands in a safe condition.

The court hearing the case dismissed the plaintiff’s case against the fairgrounds based on the recreational use statute. Despite the plaintiff’s argument that she was “indirectly” charged because the defendant required merchants to pay a fee, the court found that the defendant was engaging in recreational – not commercial – activity. As a result, the plaintiff will not be permitted to recover compensation for her injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland slip-and-fall accident, regardless of the circumstances, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While it is true that injuries occurring on government-owned land or when engaging in recreational use of another’s land may present some hurdles, consulting with a dedicated attorney is the best way to assess your chances of success. To learn more about Maryland premises liability cases, and to speak with an attorney about your injuries, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Determines City Employee Not Personally Immune from Negligence Lawsuit, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 22, 2016.

Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $72 Million Award Based on Product Liability Lawsuit over Talcum Powder, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 1, 2016.

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