Earlier this week, an appellate court in New Hampshire issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit alleging that a town was liable for injuries sustained by the plaintiff while playing near a lake that was owned by the town. The case presents relevant issues for Washington, D.C. personal injury victims insofar as it discusses the state’s recreational use statute, which bears a close resemblance to other recreational use statutes in states like neighboring Maryland and Virginia.
The plaintiff’s son was playing with a group of friends in a lake that was owned and maintained by the town where the lake was located. The plaintiff’s son was waiting near the water while his friend used a rope swing to fling himself into the water. The plaintiff’s son was attempting to slap the feet of his friend before he reached the water, when the two boys collided, causing the plaintiff’s son to sustain serious injuries.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the town, claiming that it was negligent in allowing the presence of the rope swing and in failing to place warning signs. The town responded by asserting recreational use immunity. Recreational use statutes apply to landowners who open up their property for the general enjoyment of others, and they confer immunity from some personal injury lawsuits that occur as a result of the use of the property.
The plaintiff argued against the application of recreational use immunity, claiming that his son was not engaging in a qualifying “outdoor recreational activity” at the time of the accident, and therefore immunity should not attach.
The Court’s Decision
The court determined that the town was entitled to recreational use immunity. The court first considered the statute, which provided immunity to a long list of activities that “included but were not limited to” hunting, fishing, bicycling, swimming, etc. The court explained that, while using a rope swing was not in the list of enumerated activities covered under the statute, it did qualify as an outdoor recreational activity because it was similar to the listed items. The court pointed to the statutory language describing the covered activities, noting the “included, but not limited” language made room for other, non-listed activities to be covered under the statute. As a result, the court determined that using a rope swing is an outdoor recreational activity, and the defendant was entitled to recreational use immunity.
Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another person, business, or government entity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland or Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit. While issues of recreational immunity and government immunity may arise in some cases, immunity can be overcome in many situations. The dedicated team of Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of combined experience helping victims pursue the compensation they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Plaintiffs’ Claim to Recover Medical Expenses Dismissed Because It Was Filed After the Applicable Statute of Limitations, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 3, 2017
Government Liability for Washington, D.C. Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 10, 2017