The recreational immunity statute (RCW 4.24.210) limits the liability of both public and private landowners related to unintentional injuries arising from the use of the land. To qualify for immunity from an unintentional injury of a recreational user, the land must be (1) open to members of the public (2) for recreational purposes and (3) no fee is charged.

In Lockner v. Pierce County, et. al., a decision of the Washington Supreme Court issued on April 19, 2018, the Plaintiff had sued Pierce County for an injury she sustained while biking on a trail maintained by Pierce County. Pierce County argued that recreational immunity protected it from suit. In response, the Plaintiff argued that recreational immunity did not apply because the land was not open solely for recreational purposes – the trail was open both for recreational use and for non-motorized commuting purposes.

In a unanimous decision, the Washington Supreme Court held that sole recreational use is not required to establish recreational immunity and that a landowner can claim recreational immunity if free public recreational use is one of the permitted uses of the property. The Court also affirmed that recreational immunity can apply to negligence claims.

If you’re a public or private landowner and have questions about how this recent decision affects you, don’t hesitate to contact Jordan Stephens or Brad Cattle.

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