What Injury Victims Need to Know About Virginia’s Recreational Use Statute

As a general rule, landowners owe a duty of care to those whom they allow onto their property. The extent of any duty owed is dependent on several factors, including the purpose of the visit as well as the relationship between the parties. Perhaps the most common example of a Virginia premises liability lawsuit is when a customer is injured while shopping at a business.

StadiumA recent case illustrates a different type of premises liability lawsuit. In this case, a young girl was seriously injured after she fell nearly 30 feet after slipping between the bleachers at a youth football game. The girl’s parents filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city, which operated the stadium, claiming that the city was negligent in the construction of the bleachers and also for failing to warn visitors of the dangers that were present.

The city claimed that it could not be held liable under the state’s recreational use statute. Specifically, the statute prevented anyone from holding a landowner liable if their injury occurred while engaging in recreational activity. In order for the statute to apply, the landowner cannot charge a fee for the use of their land. However, in this case, the city charged the plaintiffs $2 admission into the game, but did not charge their daughter any admission fee because she was under six years old at the time.

Thus, the court had to determine whether the recreational use statute granted the city immunity where it accepted money from some visitors but not the person who was actually injured. The court ultimately decided that the statute as written conferred immunity to a landowner as long as they did not charge the injured party a fee for using their land. Because the young girl was not charged an admission fee, the court concluded that the city was entitled to immunity.

Virginia’s Recreational Use Statute

Virginia’s recreational use statute is contained in Virginia Code section 29.1-509, and provides immunity to landowners who open up their land for the general recreational enjoyment of the public. Not all injuries that occur while engaging in recreational activities on another’s property will result immunity being granted to the landowner, however. For example, if the landowner is determined to be grossly negligent in failing to warn visitors of a dangerous condition immunity will not attach.

Interestingly, subsection (E) explains that the statute will not provide immunity to “any sponsor or operator of any sporting event or competition.” That being the case, it is possible that the case discussed above may have resulted in a different result had it been brought in a Virginia court.

Have You Been Injured While on Another’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Virginia premises liability lawsuit. This may be the case even if you were engaging in recreational activity or observing a sporting event. To learn more, and to schedule your free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case, call 703-491-7070 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

See More Blog Posts:

Virginia Supreme Court Finds Plaintiffs Were Too Late in Amending Complaint, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 17, 2018.

Court Applies the “Continuing Storm Doctrine,” Dismissing Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 1, 2018.