Court Strictly Interprets Recreational Use Statute, Rejecting Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Claim

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to interpret and apply the state’s recreational use statute. Ultimately, the court interpreted the statute as written to confer immunity to the defendant landowner, so the plaintiff’s case was dismissed. While the case was brought in a different state, it discusses concepts that may be relevant to Indiana premises liability claim.

Recreational Use Statutes

Under Indiana Code section 14-22-10-2-5, landowners who open up their land so that the general public can enjoy various recreational activities are not liable if someone engaging in a recreational activity is hurt while on the landowner’s property. However, the statute only confers immunity if the landowner does not require payment for the use of their land. Moreover, if the landowner’s conduct is malicious or constitutes an illegal act, immunity will not attach.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case mentioned above were the parents of a young girl who fell through the bleachers at a youth football game. In order to get into the game, the plaintiffs were required to pay the $2 admission fee; however, there was no fee for children under six years old. As a result of her fall, the plaintiffs’ daughter was seriously injured, and the plaintiffs filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city that owned and operated the stadium.

The city defended against the case by asserting immunity under the state’s recreational use statute. The statutory language was similar to Indiana’s recreational use statute in that it conferred immunity unless a fee was charged. The plaintiffs argued that since the city charged most attendees a fee to attend the game, the city should not be shielded from liability. The city’s position was that the girl who was injured did not pay a fee to enter the stadium, so under the plain language of the statute, the city should be entitled to immunity.

The court agreed with the city and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit. In doing so, the court adopted a literal reading of the statute, holding that since the city did not charge the person who was actually injured a fee to enter the stadium, the city was entitled to immunity under the recreational use statute. The court explained that, if lawmakers intended for immunity not to attach in this circumstance, they would have written the statute to extend immunity only to landowners who do not receive consideration from anyone who was granted access.

Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the land of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Indiana premises liability attorneys at the law firm of Parr Frandsen Richey Patterson Kruse have decades of experience handling a wide range of Indiana personal injury claims. We focus our representation on the needs of each client and cater our representation accordingly. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 888-532-7766 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Related Posts:

Court Dismisses Victim’s Case Against Ski Resort Due to Signed Release Waiver, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 1, 2018

Court Discuses Requirements for Admissibility of Expert Testimony in Recent Product Liability Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, January 17, 2018

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