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What is Recreational Immunity?

By Glenn Kadish on

Living in the Northwest means being outside, especially now that summer is quickly approaching. Whether you enjoy camping, fishing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, bicycling, hunting, skateboarding, hang gliding, paragliding, ultralight flying, rock climbing, horse riding, clam digging, etc., Washington has it all. It’s understandable then, that Legislature would pass the Recreational Immunity Act.

The Recreational Immunity Act makes land open to the public by making landowners, including local governments that allow people to use their land, immune from injury claims and lawsuits under certain conditions. There are basically two parts to the law:

  1. In order for landowners to get the immunity, they have to open their land for these sorts of uses free of charge. The law does not apply if the landowner charges a fee for using the land.
  2. The recreational immunity statute does not apply if the landowner did not warn users about any condition that is known, artificially dangerous, and is not obvious.

Cases involving the Recreational Immunity Act can be complicated. For instance, one woman was seriously injured riding a bike on the trail across I-90 on Mercer Island. The defendant claimed “recreational immunity” saying that they did not charge for riding on the trail. However, since it got money from the state and federal governments to build the trail claiming that this trail was part of their transportation system, it was not immune from lawsuits.

In another case, the Washington Supreme Court held that a park district was immune to a lawsuit from a badly injured bicyclist, because a defective speed bump on a street running through the park was obvious, even though neither the bike rider nor anyone else could see the defect.

We understand, and have a lot of experience dealing with the Recreational Immunity Act. As personal injury lawyers in Everett, we’ve defeated Recreational Immunity defenses several times on behalf of our clients. If you or a family member is injured while doing any recreational activity because of something man made, give us a call. We know the recreational immunity statute and the cases that have interpreted it. We understand when the statute applies and when it doesn’t, in order to get our clients the best recovery.

This website includes general information about legal issues to be used for educational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances or to create an attorney-client relationship.


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