Florida’s Recreational-Use Statute May Prevent Some Victims from Recovering Compensation for Their Injuries

As a general rule, landowners have a duty to make sure that their property is safe for those whom they invite onto their land. If someone is injured due to a landowner’s negligence, the injured party can pursue a Florida premises liability lawsuit against the landowner.

Bike TrailHowever, Florida lawmakers have established certain exceptions to this general rule. One such exception is contained in Florida Statutes section 375.251, also known as Florida’s recreational-use statute. The recreational-use statute grants immunity to certain landowners who open up their land for the free recreational use of the public. Specifically, the statute explains that qualifying landowners do not make any assurances that the land is safe, do not incur a duty of care to those who use the land, and will not be liable to anyone for injuries caused by their own negligence while on the land.

That being said, even a qualifying landowner is not immune from liability for deliberate, willful, or malicious actions that result in injuries.

For the most part, when a landowner qualifies for immunity under the recreational-use statute is straightforward. However, that is not always so. Some cases present more complex situations. Other times, it is not exactly clear whether a landowner should be entitled to immunity. For example, in a recent case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant landowner should not be entitled to immunity because the land in question was not solely used for recreational purposes.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding her bike along an asphalt trail that was owned and maintained by the defendant government agency. As the plaintiff was riding on the trail, she approached a maintenance worker mowing the lawn. The lawnmower had kicked up a cloud of dust and debris, and the plaintiff attempted to cover her face as she rode by. However, by doing so, the plaintiff lost control of her bike and crashed, ultimately injuring her leg and knee.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the government. In response, the government claimed it was entitled to immunity under the state’s recreational-use statute. Initially, the case was resolved in favor of the government, but the plaintiff was successful in getting the case reversed on appeal by arguing that the land in question was not exclusively used for recreational purposes and that the recreational-use statute should not apply.

The government then appealed to the state’s high court, which reversed the case in favor of the government. The court held that there was no language in the recreational-use statute requiring that the land in question be dedicated solely to recreational purposes. The court then held that, absent such language, the intermediate appellate court was not proper to read in the additional requirement of exclusivity. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

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

If you have recently been injured while on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Whether you were injured on a bike trail, grocery store aisle, or sidewalk, or while in the common area of an apartment complex, you may have a valid claim for compensation through a Florida premises liability lawsuit. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney about your case, call 877-448-8585 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Verdict in Favor of Patient Reversed by Court Due to Patient’s Failure to Prove Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 19, 2017.

Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Provide Specific Location of Injury, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 4, 2018.

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