Recreational Use Immunity Doctrine Prevents Paralyzed Injury Victim from Seeking Recovery in Diving Accident

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that was filed by a man who was paralyzed after he dived off a diving platform in a state park. The court noted that it was sympathetic to the plaintiff, but that the law had to be applied in an unemotional way. In so doing, the court found that the state was immune from the lawsuit based on recreational immunity.

Roy v. State: The Facts

Roy was paralyzed when he dove off a diving platform into the murky waters below it. He filed a premises liability lawsuit against the state, as well as the owner and operator of the park, alleging that the state had not done enough to protect against the type of injury he sustained.

The evidence presented at trial showed that there were “no swimming” signs up around the park, but that people routinely disobeyed the signage. There was even testimony that there were bathhouses and lifeguards occasionally on duty who would only stop swimmers when they would dive head-first into the pond.

On the day in question, Roy approached the water and looked in. he could not see the bottom because the water was murky, but explained that if the water was too shallow he would have been able to tell. He “shallow dived” in the water, meaning he didn’t go fully head-first, but entered the water at more of an angle, yet tragically broke his neck.

The issue for the appellate court to consider was whether the state government was potentially liable for Roy’s injuries or if the state was instead entitled to recreational use immunity. Recreational use immunity acts to shield landowners from liability when someone is injured on their land. It only applies when the landowner allows the general public to use the land, without cost, for recreational purposes. There is, however, a limit to the immunity: when the landowner’s “malicious or willful” failure to warn of a dangerous condition once the landowner discovers it.

The court determined that this exception didn’t apply in this case. The court explained that there was no indication that the state knew the specific dangers involved at the pond. While there had been other injuries at the pond, none were as serious as the plaintiff’s. As a result of this decision, the plaintiff and his family will not be able to recover for his injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington D.C. Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the owner of the property. This may even be the case if the owner was a state or federal government. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland and Washington D.C. personal injury firm Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience representing injured clients. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we can help you seek the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Fault in Multi-Party Washington, D.C. Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 9, 2016

Plaintiff’s Procedural Mistake Results in Dismissal of Premises Liability Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 30, 2016

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