Florida’s Recreational Use Statute

When someone is injured on the property of another party due to some defect or hazard on the property, they may file a South Florida premises liability lawsuit against the landowner, seeking compensation for their injuries. In general, landowners owe a duty of care to most people who enter their land. The extent to which a landowner must go to provide a safe property depends heavily on the relationship between the parties and the reason why the visitor is on the landowner’s property.

Rope SwingOne question that often comes up in Florida premises liability lawsuits is whether an accident victim can recover compensation when they are hurt on another party’s land while engaging in a recreational activity, such as swimming, hiking, hunting, fishing, or boating. The answer, as with many questions in the law, is “it depends.”

Under Florida’s recreational use statute, Florida Statute 375.251, some landowners who allow others to use their property for recreational purposes are immune from liability. In order to qualify for this immunity, a landowner must show that they allowed the injured person to use their land for a recreational purpose and did not collect a fee for doing so. The burden is on the landowner to establish these elements, and a landowner’s failure to present evidence of each will result in the court declining to find that the landowner is immune from liability. A recent case illustrates how a court might analyze a recreational use defense.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s son was injured while playing on a rope swing near a lake that was owned by the defendant town. The town did not place the rope swing on the tree, but evidence suggested that some town employees knew of its existence.

One day, the plaintiff’s son was playing with other children on the rope swing. When one of his friends was swinging, the plaintiff’s son tried to slap the other boy’s feet while he was in the air. The plaintiff misjudged his ability to safely do so, and the two children collided, resulting in the plaintiff’s son sustaining serious injuries.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the town, seeking compensation for his son’s injuries. The town asserted a recreational use defense, arguing that the plaintiff’s son was engaging in a recreational activity at the time of the accident, and the town could not be held liable as a result.

The court agreed, finding that swinging from a rope swing is exactly the type of recreational activity that is covered under the statute, although it was not specifically listed in the statutory text. As a result, the plaintiff will not be permitted to recover for his son’s injuries.

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

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While recreational use statutes may preclude a small number of Florida personal injury lawsuits, you should not assume that is the case. Instead, seek the counsel of a dedicated South Florida premises liability attorney who can advise you of your rights and provide you with an opinion about the strength of your case. The dedicated attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience advising clients on a wide range of personal injury matters, as well as experience litigating these claims in Florida courts. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Florida injury attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Damages in South Florida Car Accidents, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 21, 2017.

Nursing Home Claims Privilege in Face of Plaintiff’s Discovery Request, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 5, 2017.

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