Earlier this month, a North Dakota appellate court issued a written opinion finding that a county fairground was not legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries sustained during a free fireworks display. The court based its decision on the state’s “recreational use statute.”
The Facts of Woody v. Pembina County Annual Fair & Exhibition Association
The plaintiff in the case, Woody, was injured when she was attending a free fireworks display at her local fairground. Evidently, while Woody was looking for a seat to enjoy the show, she stepped on a rotted board and fell through the grandstand. As a result of her fall, she sustained serious injuries.
Woody filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Fair, alleging that the Fair’s negligence in failing to maintain the grandstands resulted in her injury. Prior to the beginning of the trial, the parties agreed to the facts, and the Fair asked the court to dismiss the case because it was entitled to immunity from the lawsuit, based on the state’s recreational use statute. The court determined that the Fair, as a non-profit and tax-exempt organization that opened up its land for the use and enjoyment of the general public at no charge, was entitled to immunity. Thus, Woody’s case was dismissed.
Not satisfied with the result at trial, Woody asked a higher court to review her case. She argued that the Fair was not engaging in “recreational” activity but instead was engaging in “commercial” activity, removing the case from the reach of the recreational use statute. In support of her argument, she pointed to the fees that the vendors had to pay to sell their goods at the Fair. She claimed that this indirectly subjected her to a “charge,” and thus the Fair was engaging in commercial activity.
The court disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of her case. As a result of the decision, Woody will not be permitted to recover compensation for her injuries, even if they were due to the negligence of the Fair or its employees.
The Recreational Use Statute in Indiana
Like North Dakota, Indiana also has a recreational use statute that may act to protect the owners of land in certain situations. However, it is generally up to the landowner to assert and prove this defense. Therefore, if you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident on another’s property, don’t do the defendant’s work for them and assume your case is subject to the statute. Contact an attorney to discuss whether you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Have You Been Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you recoup the costs associated with your injuries. This may include amounts for past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as for any pain and suffering you endured as a result of your injuries. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney to go over your case.
Court Upholds Jury’s Zero-Dollar Verdict in Personal Injury Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 9, 2016
Recent Appellate Court Opinion Finds in Favor of Plaintiff in Road Rage Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, April 1, 2016