Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP
Call OUr Law Office TODAY
Massachusetts 413-346-5305
Vermont 802-681-4687
Toll Free 800-365-9913
Our Practice Areas

"Recreational immunity" may not Protect a Landowner or a Contractor from Lawsuit

In many states, landowners and their agents cannot be sued for deaths or injuries that occur on property they have opened up to the public for recreational activities like swimming, hiking, fishing, camping or horseback riding. "Recreational immunity," as it is called, only applies if the landowners open up the property to the public for free of charge and does not apply to gross negligence claims. In Massachusetts, "recreational immunity" is governed by G.L. c. 21 ยง17C.


The three most important factors analyzed by a court when determining if the statute applies to bar liability are: (1) the payment of any fees; (2) any limitations on public access; and (3) the nature of the public's use of the land. The charging of a fee for public recreational use will prevent application of the statute to bar liability. However, recently Massachusetts courts have distinguished fees from donations or reimbursements for marginal costs. Likewise, in order to receive the protection of the statute, access must be "free and equal" access for recreational use to all members of the general public. There will not be immunity if the property is only open to a small portion of the general public. Finally, what constitutes a "recreational activity" is fairly broad and has been held to include activities such as walking or bike riding as "inherently" recreational regardless of the reasons the individual engaged in the activity.


A landowner who fails to meet the requirements for application of "recreational immunity", he or she may be liable for injuries that occur on their property. Likewise, a third party, such as a contractor, who is on the land and is not subject to the control and direction of the landowner, may not be considered an agent of the landowner and, as such, may be held liable for any injuries they cause.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Our Team Today

Tell Us About Your Legal Issue

For more information, please call 800-365-9913 or fill out the below form to send us a confidential email:

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

North Adams Office
1330 Mass MoCA Way
North Adams, MA 01247

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 413-346-5305
Fax: 413-663-7970
North Adams Law Office Map

Pittsfield Office
2 South Street
Suite 115
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 413-346-5305
Fax: 413-443-1894
Map & Directions

Bennington Office
116 South Street
Bennington, VT 05201

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 802-681-4687
Map & Directions

Springfield Office
1331 Main Street
Springfield, Massachusetts 01103

Toll Free: 800-365-9913
Phone: 413-346-5305
Fax: 413-443-1894
Map & Directions

  • Super Lawyers
  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • PeerReviewRated
  • American Association for Justice
  • ABA | American Bar Association
  • MassBar |Association
  • NAELA
  • American College of Trial Lawyers