Some of the most difficult jobs of a lawmaker is to weigh legitimate but competing interests and develop a reasonable compromise that everyone can live with. The Indiana recreational-use statute is a good example of Indiana lawmakers attempting to secure ample outdoor space for recreational activity while at the same time ensuring that Indianans remain safe while at play.
A recreational-use statute is a law under which qualifying landowners cannot be held liable for injuries that occur as the result of another party’s recreational use of the property. Indiana’s recreational-use statute is contained in Indiana Code section 14-22-10-2, and provides that landowners who do not charge a fee for others to use their property for “swimming, camping, hiking, sightseeing, or any other purpose,” do not assume responsibility for injuries occurring on their property.
Of course, the recreational-use statute does not apply to willful or intentional conduct on the part of the landowner. Thus, landowners who open up their land for public use but refuse to fix known hazards may still be liable for a visitor’s injuries. In order to get around the application of the recreational-use statute, an injury victim must be able to first prove that the landowner knew of the hazard’s existence. A recent slip-and-fall case discusses this requirement.