Florida’s Recreational Use Statute
Property owners owe duties to people they invite or allow onto their property. These duties depend on the status of the person entering the property but typically include a requirement to regularly inspect the property and make repairs to known hazards. If you own a business, for example, you should regularly inspect the aisles so that customers do not slip on transitory substances or have heavy objects fall off shelves and land on them.
Premises liability law creates a disincentive for landowners to open their property to the public for recreational use. After all, what person would allow people to enter to ride ATVs or walk their dogs if they must constantly inspect the property and repair any defects to avoid a lawsuit?
Florida has recognized the problem inherent in this situation, so the legislature passed a recreational use statute, which can be found at Fla. Stat. §375.251. This statute can limit the ability of a victim to sue for compensation when injured on public land. Contact our law firm for more information.
How the Recreational Use Statute Impacts a Lawsuit
Florida wants to incentivize people opening their lands or waterways for others to enjoy, so it grants immunity in many situations through the recreational use statute. Put simply the law states that someone who opens their land for outdoor recreational use owes “no duty of care” to keep the property safe. They also have no duty to give warnings of any hazardous condition.
The law only applies to certain public land—specifically, land or waterways opened up for people to use free of charge. In other words, this law does not protect businesses or people who monetize the public’s use of the land.
Exceptions to the Public Use Statute
If you were injured on public land, you might think you have no right to sue. That is not necessarily the case. The statute has some important exceptions.
First, the property owner might have contracted with the state for the use of the area. If so, then the state might have agreed to accept liability for injuries caused by hazardous conditions. Your premises liability attorney in Delray Beach can analyze whether this is the case.
Second, the statute does not apply if the property owner obtains economic benefit from the land, regardless of whether they charge for admission. For example, the property owner could sell souvenirs or food to visitors, in which case the recreational use statute does not apply.
Let Us Analyze whether You Have a Case
Many private property owners have opened their land for public use. We thank them. Floridians would have fewer places to boat, walk their dogs, run, or play with their families.
However, if you were injured due to a dangerous condition, you need to analyze whether you have a valid legal claim. Contact Earnhart Law today. Our Delray Beach premises liability lawyers can determine whether the recreational use statute applies or whether you fall under an exception. Please contact us today at 561-265-2220 to get started on your case.