Recreational Use Statutes Lawyers

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 When Is a Landowner Liable for an Injury on the Landowner's Property?

When a landlord acts carelessly, they are often accountable for the tenant’s injuries. When a landlord acts negligently, they are also often accountable for third-party injuries. In most cases, a landlord is not liable for harm to recreational users.

Recreational Use Statutes’ Purpose

Recreational use statutes are intended to encourage landowners to expose their land to others for recreational purposes, such as skiing, fishing, hiking, and so on, without fear of liability for harm caused by such recreational activities.

People looking for recreation are granted access to landowners’ properties. In exchange for being permitted to recreate on the landowner’s property, the individual waives their right to sue the landowner for injuries caused by the landowner’s negligence.

Statutes for Recreational Use Protection

Recreational use statutes often exclude landowners from liability for injuries sustained by recreational users on their property.

Most recreational usage statutes declare that a property owner has no obligation to keep the place safe for recreational use. Recreational use laws differ by jurisdiction.

Check your local statute to determine the safeguards for recreational use in your jurisdiction.

Exemptions from Protection

The following are some exemptions from protection:

  • Recreational use statutes do not protect landowners who charge admission or usage fees.
  • Are intentional or malicious in their behavior, or fail to warn of potential hazards
  • Invite recreational users to the property explicitly (in some jurisdictions only)

In general, recreational use statutes do not preclude allegations of attractive nuisance (some jurisdictions only)

Attractive Use Doctrine

Even in the existence of a recreational use statute, a landowner is liable under the attractive use theory. The fact that the wounded youngster was a trespasser is the starting point for a claim based on the law of attractive nuisance.

The recreational use statute does not preclude a landowner from being held liable under this doctrine.

Even though a child who uses the land for recreational purposes is not a trespasser under the statute, the owner should be liable for injury to the child in the same way that the owner is liable to a trespassing child.

Understanding Zoning and Land-Use Regulations

Land use restrictions and zoning laws govern all real estate in the United States. This is analogous in Canada, where land-use control is the duty of the provinces.

Cities and towns have zoning laws that govern how the land can be used. Zoning laws govern how the land can be developed and for what it can be used. Recreational zoning often prohibits the construction of permanent structures in the area.

However, the phrase will have distinct connotations in each place. Overall, it usually signifies you won’t be able to reside there permanently.

In other circumstances, you are not even permitted to park a camper or “mobile home” on the land for a lengthy time.

A good example of such limits is a “forest recreational” zone in Lower Michigan’s Northern Region.

In this region, you can build a 500-square-foot hunting or fishing cottage on the land. You are also not permitted to stay in the cabin for more than 120 days each year. If you own a mobile home or RV, it cannot stay on the land for more than 120 days.

As you can see, you can construct a permanent structure but not live in it permanently.

Remember that “recreational zoning” has various definitions for each location and municipality.

Before purchasing land:

  • Read the fine print.
  • Ask questions.
  • Consult with professionals to evaluate if it will meet your needs.

To be more specific:

  • Speak with the local zoning authority; and
  • Obtain a copy of the zoning board’s rules to understand each zoning classification. The zoning board’s bylaws will specifically outline building and usage restrictions.

Only acquire land expecting you can do everything you want with it, only to discover the hard way you can’t. Always ask, “Can you live on recreational land in my area?” and consult with the zoning department to understand what you’re facing.

Can Recreational Land Be Rezoned?

What if you find the ideal recreational land but cannot construct a permanent structure? Or maybe you can build a structure on it but can’t live there permanently? Is it possible to rezone recreational land? It is technically doable.

A zoning variance, special use permit, or zoning designation change can accomplish this:

  • Permit for Special Use: Simply put, this allows you to utilize the land in ways that are not ordinarily permitted and, in many situations, will expire when the land is sold.
  • Variation in Zoning: It gives you authority to utilize the land in a way that violates municipal zoning. However, remember that you will frequently be required to demonstrate that unusual circumstances caused some suffering.
  • Rezoning: This can be lengthy and costly because existing zoning rules will consider the best land use for all residents in the area. As a result, the relevant governing body will scrutinize any changes more closely.

The procedure for seeking a zoning exception varies depending on the jurisdiction. However, you must file a written application, pay a filing fee, and present your case to the local zoning board or planning commission. In all likelihood, there will be heightened sensitivity surrounding the preservation of recreational space, making rezoning recreational land problematic.

Water, Electricity, and Everyday Necessities Are All Available

If you are permitted to construct a residence on the property, you must additionally consider some practical factors, such as:

  • Water: The provision of safe drinking water is at the top of the list. Due to the rural nature of many recreational properties, connecting to a shared water supply may not be feasible. When connecting to a shared water supply is impossible, the most dependable choice is to drill a well, but remember that this is also fairly expensive. You must also evaluate whether the zoning allows you to drill a well.
  • Electricity: In terms of electricity, if traditional electrical lines do not run to the property or extending poles and lines would be too expensive, you will need to consider off-grid power sources. This could include solar or wind possibilities, depending on their viability in your area. A wood-burning or pellet stove may be the best option if you don’t have power.
  • Everyday comforts: Finally, access to ordinary luxuries such as restaurants and grocery stores may be limited. Package delivery services, which we have come to rely on in everyday life, may also be unavailable. Furthermore, you may not have access to essential emergency medical services if you live off the grid. Finally, you must decide whether you will have access to these services on your land and, if not, whether you can do without them.

Can You Live on Recreational Property?

If the property is classified as recreational, the use of the land for residential purposes will be restricted. This may include restrictions on the size and type of buildings authorized (if any) and limits on the number of days you can live on the property each year.

While it is conceivable to rezone recreational land, it will most likely be challenging due to the increased sensitivity around the preservation of recreational space.

Before residing on recreational land, you should consult with your local zoning agency to better understand the restrictions. You should also consider access to water, power, common necessities, and the tax implications.

Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Recreational liability legislation is quite complex and varies greatly by country. A personal injury attorney can assist you in determining the applicable law in your jurisdiction and represent you in court, whether you are a landowner contesting liability or an injured recreational user attempting to establish liability.

Furthermore, suppose you are aware that recreational users are gaining access to your property. In that case, you should consult an attorney to fully understand your rights and obligations under the recreational use statute.

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