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Court Finds Recreational Immunity Applies to Diving Accident at Government-Run Park

Earlier this month, the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an opinion of interest to anyone considering filing a premises liability case against a landowner. In the case, Roy v. State, the court discussed how a state’s recreational use statute may act to prevent an injured party from seeking compensation for their injuries if the injuries occurred on the land of another party that had been opened up for free use by the general public.

Lake SceneThe Facts of the Case

Roy was paralyzed after he dove into a pond in a state-owned park. The park had “no swimming” signs posted around the pond, but the swimming prohibition was not strictly enforced. In fact, it seems that there would even be lifeguards on duty some days to ensure that those who did decide to swim were doing so safely. In addition to the “no swimming” signs, there were also “no diving” signs, and from the evidence at trial, this prohibition was enforced.

On the day in question, Roy dove into the pond after quickly inspecting the water level from above. He explained that it looked deep enough to dive into and also that he didn’t enter the water at a perpendicular angle, but instead at a more gradual angle through what he called a shallow dive. In any event, Roy struck his head on the bottom of the lake and broke his neck. He suffered permanent paralysis as a result. He then filed a premises liability lawsuit against the state, as the owner and operator of the park, alleging that the state was negligent in the maintenance of the park.

The court hearing the case determined that the recreational use statute prevented Roy’s lawsuit from proceeding. The court held that, in general, those who open up their land for the recreational use of the general public cannot be held liable for the injuries sustained on the land. These include injuries caused by dangerous conditions on the land that, had the owner known of them, would have been remedied.

Roy argued that the recreational use statute should not apply because the state was grossly negligent in failing to remedy a known hazard. The court explained that, if that were the case, it would defeat the immunity granted under the statute, but under these facts, the state did not act with the requisite level of gross negligence. As a result of this case, Roy and his family will not be entitled to seek financial recovery for the injuries he sustained.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Premises Liability Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip and fall or another premises liability accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, depending on the circumstances of your injuries and where they occurred, you may need to overcome recreational use or governmental immunity before being entitled to recovery. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Cohn & Smith have decades of experience bringing all kinds of personal injury cases on behalf of their clients, including those arising from slip and fall accidents. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney who can help you understand what you will need to prove to be successful in your case.

Related Blog Posts:

How the “Continuing Course of Treatment” Doctrine May Help Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, July 13, 2016.

Jury Verdict in Premises Liability Lawsuit Reversed by Appellate Court, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, June 27, 2016.

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