How the Maine Recreational Use Statute Can Impact an Injury Victim’s Ability to Recover for Their Injuries

As a general rule, Maine personal injury laws hold people accountable for injuries that are caused by their negligence. In many cases, the basis of a personal injury suit is the defendant’s negligent action; however, a lawsuit can also be premised on a defendant’s failure to act. This is frequently the case in Maine premises liability cases.

Under Maine premises liability law, property owners and lessees owe a duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property. However, landowners do not owe the same duty to those who enter the property without permission. Courts generally do not require a plaintiff to prove that they were formally invited onto a property before finding that the property owner owed them a duty. Instead, courts consider the surrounding circumstances when making the determination. For example, a customer who enters a business establishment will be presumed to be an invited guest, even if they do not intend to make a purchase.

An important exception to the general rule that property owners owe a duty to those whom they invite onto their land is the Maine recreational use statute. A recreational use statute is a law that specifically prohibits certain lawsuits that are based on injuries occurring while engaging in recreational activity on the defendant’s land. The idea behind recreational use statutes is that the government wants to encourage landowners to allow the general public to enjoy their land without fear of being financially responsible for any injuries occurring as a result.

Maine’s recreational use statute is contained in Maine Revised Statutes §159-A: Limited liability for recreational or harvesting activities. The statute explains that a landowner “does not have a duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational or harvesting activities or to give warning of any hazardous condition, … on these premises to persons entering for those purposes.” The statute applies to a broad range of recreational activities, including, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, and swimming.

Importantly, the recreational use statute does not apply if either of the following applies:

  • The landowner willfully or maliciously failed to guard against or warn a guest of a hazard on their property; or
  • The landowner charged a fee to use the property for recreational purposes.

Each of these exceptions is subject to interpretation. Thus, anyone who was recently injured while engaging in recreational activities on another’s property should discuss their situation with a dedicated Maine personal injury attorney.

Contact an Experienced Maine Premises Liability Lawyer

If you or someone you love was recently injured while on another’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. At our Maine personal injury practice, Peter Thompson & Associates, we represent injury victims in all types of claims, including Maine slip and fall cases. We offer all prospective clients a free consultation in which we will answer any questions and discuss how we can help. There is no risk in calling, because we do not bill our clients unless we can help them recover for their injuries. To learn more, call 800-804-2004 to schedule your free consultation today.