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How does premises liability apply to recreational users?

Many people may be generally familiar with premises liability law in Ohio as it applies to the typical "slip and fall" situation in a grocery store or other retail establishment, or as it may apply to people who are injured while visiting the residence of another or even in some cases while they are on public property. But these are not the only situations in which premises liability can become a consideration. Another, less commonly known instance can be connected to "recreational use" of property.

Anyone who believes that he or she has a possible legal claim for premises liability should consult with an Ohio personal injury attorney for guidance on whether a cause of action exists and if it does how to pursue it.

Ohio has a "recreational user" statute that governs whether the owner, occupant or lessee of property can be held liable under premises liability for injuries to people using that property for recreational activities. The general rule is that there is no liability to recreational users as long as the following conditions apply:

the premises concerned are nonresidential private land;

permission is given to the recreational user to enter onto the property for such use; and

the owner, occupier or lessee of the property does not receive any fee (other than the lease fee) or benefit for allowing the recreational use.

What constitutes a recreational use is broadly defined, and includes but is not limited to hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, swimming, and the use of recreational vehicles. It also applies to activities like sporting activities such as softball or baseball, horseback riding, or even watching other people who are engaged in these activities.

The recreational user statute does not preclude an owner, occupant or lessee of property from being sued by such users if they suffer harm on the property. But if it is used successfully as a defense to such a lawsuit, the result will be the likely dismissal of any premises liability cause of action. The success or failure of a premises liability lawsuit will depend upon the unique facts of each situation, including the legal status of anyone who is injured on the property of someone else.

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