Florida has hundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful outdoor areas that are perfect for a number of recreational activities, including hiking, boating, hunting, and biking. However, much of this land is owned by various government entities or by private citizens. In the interest of persuading landowners to open up their land for the general recreational use of the public, Florida lawmakers passed Florida Statute 375.251, the Florida recreational use statute.
The recreational use statute encourages landowners to allow members of the public to use their land by preventing anyone who is injured while using a landowner’s property from holding the landowner responsible for any injuries sustained. Importantly, the immunity conferred by the recreational use statute is not absolute, and immunity will not attach if the landowner charges a fee to use or access the land, or if the landowner engages in “deliberate, willful, or malicious” conduct.
A recent case illustrates how one court strictly interpreted a similar recreational use statute, rejecting the plaintiffs’ claim against a stadium where their daughter was seriously injured.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs in the case were a couple who took their young daughter to a youth football game at the defendant stadium. The stadium charged a $2 admission for all adults and children over the age of six. However, children under six were not charged a fee for admission.
During the game, the plaintiffs’ daughter accompanied them to the concession stand. As their daughter was walking back from the concession stand, she fell through a gap in the bleachers. The girl fell approximately 30 feet to the ground and was seriously injured as a result of the fall.
The plaintiffs filed a premises liability lawsuit against the stadium, claiming that it was negligent in allowing the gap to exist. The stadium defended against the plaintiffs’ claim by asserting recreational use immunity. The stadium argued that, since the young girl was not charged admission, and she was engaging in a recreational activity, the stadium could not be liable for her injuries.
The plaintiffs argued that the stadium did charge admission for the event – just not for young children – and thus it should not enjoy recreational use immunity. The court, however, disagreed. The court explained that the recreational use statute was clearly written and conferred immunity in this exact type of situation. The court was not convinced by the plaintiffs’ argument that immunity should not attach because some of the attendees were charged admission. Instead, the court explained that immunity would be determined based on the individual who suffered the injury, and whether they were charged admission.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated team of Florida injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have decades of experience helping victims and their families obtain the compensation they deserve from the responsible parties. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with a South Florida injury attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Florida’s Rule of Evidence Regarding Witnesses’ Inconsistent Statements, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 19, 2017.
Appellate Court Discusses the Government’s Responsibility to Maintain Safe Roadways, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 5, 2018.