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New Hampshire Recreational Use Statute

 New Hampshire Recreational Use Statute

Title XVIII  Fish and Game

Chapter 212  Propagation of Fish and Game

Liability of Landowners

RSA 212:34  (2017)

212:34.  Duty of Care.

I. In this section:

(a) “Charge” means a payment or fee paid by a person to the landowner for entry upon, or use of the premises, for outdoor recreational activity.

(b) “Landowner” means an owner, lessee, holder of an easement, occupant of the premises, or person managing, controlling, or overseeing the premises on behalf of such owner, lessee, holder of an easement, or occupant of the
premises.

(c) “Outdoor recreational activity” means outdoor recreational pursuits including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, horseback riding, bicycling, water sports, winter sports, snowmobiling as defined in RSA 215-C:1, XV, operating an OHRV as defined in RSA 215-A:1, V, hiking, ice and rock climbing or bouldering, or sightseeing upon or removing fuel wood from the premises. 

(d) “Premises” means the land owned, managed, controlled, or overseen by the landowner upon which the outdoor recreational activity subject to this section occurs.

(e) “Ancillary facilities” means facilities commonly associated with outdoor recreational activities, including but not limited to, parking lots, warming shelters, restrooms, outhouses, bridges, and culverts. 

II. A landowner owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for outdoor recreational activity or to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such premises to persons entering for such purposes, except as provided in paragraph V. 

II-a. Except as provided in paragraph V, a landowner who permits the use of his or her land for outdoor recreational activity pursuant to this section and who does not charge a fee or seek any other consideration in exchange for allowing such use, owes no duty of care to persons on the premises who are engaged in the construction, maintenance, or expansion of trails or ancillary facilities for outdoor recreational activity.

III. A landowner who gives permission to another to enter or use the premises for outdoor recreational activity does not thereby:

(a) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for such purpose;

(b) Confer to the person to whom permission has been granted the legal status of an invitee to whom a duty of care is owed; or 

(c) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for an injury to person or property caused by any act of such person to whom permission has been granted, except as provided in paragraph V.

IV. Any warning given by a landowner, whether oral or by sign, guard, or issued by other means, shall not be the basis of liability for a claim that such warning was inadequate or insufficient unless otherwise required under subparagraph V(a).

V. This section does not limit the liability which otherwise exists:

(a) For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity;

(b) For injury suffered in any case where permission to enter or use the premises for outdoor recreational activity was granted for a charge other than the consideration if any, paid to said landowner by the state;

(c) When the injury was caused by acts of persons to whom permission to enter or use the premises for outdoor recreational activity was granted, to third persons as to whom the landowner owed a duty to keep the premises safe or to warn of danger; or 

(d) When the injury suffered was caused by the intentional act of the landowner.

VI. Except as provided in paragraph V, no cause of action shall exist for a person injured using the premises as provided in paragraph II, engaged in the construction, maintenance, or expansion of trails or ancillary facilities as provided in paragraph II-a, or given permission as provided in paragraph III.

VII. If, as to any action against a landowner, the court finds against the claimant because of the application of this section, it shall determine whether the claimant had a reasonable basis for bringing the action, and if no reasonable basis is found, shall order the claimant to pay for the reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by the landowner in  defending against the action.

VIII. It is recognized that outdoor recreational activities may be hazardous. Therefore, each person who participates in outdoor recreational activities accepts, as a matter of law, the dangers inherent in such activities, and shall not maintain an action against an owner, occupant, or lessee of land for any injuries which result from such inherent risks, dangers, or hazards. The categories of such risks, hazards, or dangers which the outdoor recreational participant assumes as a matter of law include, but are not limited to, the following: variations in terrain, trails, paths, or roads, surface or subsurface
snow or ice conditions, bare spots, rocks, trees, stumps, and other forms of forest growth or debris, structures on the land, equipment not in use, pole lines, fences, and collisions with other objects or persons.

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Why do people sue? Not for the money.

Answer their questions and you don’t give someone a reason to find a lawyer.

The headline is Parents file suit against city and club. The lawsuit is over the death of a 6 year old boy who drowned in a city pool less than a month before.

Could you predict this lawsuit was going to happen? I think you could if you were the city. Here are four hints that maybe you are going to be sued.

Hint #1 Even the attorney says the lawsuit is to get information.

“From the family’s point of view, it has been three weeks (since their son died) and they have no information on what happened,” Whitaker said.

“They still don’t know what actually happened.”

He said the lawsuit seeks monetary damages for wrongful death, but a big part of the filing is to have access to information about how the child died.

“All my clients are hearing right now is second-hand,” he said. “It’s terrible for them.”

Hint #2 If you plan to get sued you will get sued.

City officials referred all questions regarding the lawsuit to City Attorney Allen Betz. An employee at Betz’s office said he was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.

Hint #3 If you don’t answer a parent’s questions you are going to get a lawsuit.

“We just want to know what happened. The family feels the only way they will get answers is through the lawsuit.”

Parents wanted to know what happened to their child and the only answers they received was “call the city’s attorney.” There are three major and stupid reasons for doing this.

1. The attorney was not there and therefore, can’t answer any questions.

2. Attorneys don’t answer questions anyway.

3. Attorneys intimidate people. Who wants to talk to an attorney?

I know, I’m an attorney!

What was another hint?

Hint #4 The lawsuit was filed 25 days after the death. People never file lawsuits that soon.

Within three weeks of the death, the family has all ready hired an attorney. Whether because they felt so frustrated that they felt they had no choice, or because they had to fight fire with fire (attorney v. attorney) or a combination of reasons, that should be a hint you need to do something or pay attorneys!

The only real legal issue in the article is the miscommunication between the parents and the pool employees.

In the lawsuit, Whitaker said Terry Lavka told a woman stationed at the sign-in table when he took his son there for the summer day camp that Samuel Lavka was afraid of water, could not swim and should not be allowed near the big pool.

“They didn’t want him in the pool because he couldn’t swim,” Whitaker said. “They were told that, and the parents believed those instructions would be followed.

If someone tells you or one of your employees something about their concerns, fees or beliefs about what you are going to do, you need to correct them or pay attention to them. Here the parents believed that because they had told the pool employees something that was the way it was going to be.

This is a tragic accident. A six year old boy drowns in a city pool. The tragedy is compounded because the parents still don’t know what happened to their son. Their grief will not end but be compounded for years as the litigation drags on, and they grasp tidbits of answers about what happened.

For other articles about this issue see: It’s Not Money and Serious Disconnect: Why people sue.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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