Can I Sue For A Recreational Activity Injury?

Zip Line Recreational Activity

In Michigan, whether it is 80 degrees and sunny, or 20 degrees and snowing, there is no shortage of recreational activities to enjoy. While fun, sometimes these activities can result in injury. When that happens, and the injury is serious, the injured person might wonder about their legal rights. In this blog, attorney Tom Sinas tries to answer the question, can I sue for a recreational activity injury? The answer is you may be able to sue, depending on the circumstances and where the injury occurred.

Recreational Activities Injury & Recreational Land Use Act

The Michigan Supreme Court recently decided on a case that relates to the issue of suing over an injury sustained during a recreational activity. In this case, someone was injured after ziplining in someone else’s backyard.

The reason the case made its way up the appellate ladder is due to what is known in Michigan as the Recreational Land Use Act, which promotes landowners to make their land open for public recreational use by limiting their liability in the case of injury. Under the Act, a landowner is not liable (responsible) for injuries sustained on their property if the injured person was not paying to be on the property or participate in a recreational activity. It also states that a recreational activity is defined as fishing, hunting, camping, site seeing, or any other outdoor recreational use. The only exception to liability protection is if it can be shown the injury occurred because of the owner’s gross negligence or willful and wanton misconduct.

In the case of Doreen Rott v Arthur Rott, the question was whether ziplining falls under the scope of other outdoor recreational use. The reason for that important question is that if it did fall under that category, the standard of liability for the homeowner (grossly negligent or willful and wanton misconduct) is high and hard to prove. If it was not, then it must be shown only that there was ordinary negligence and carelessness.

Michigan Supreme Court Recreational Activities Ruling

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that ziplining did not fall under the criteria for “any other outdoor recreational use.”  The Court mentioned that outdoor recreational use is generally marked by the following:

  1. You must show the activity couldn’t be done indoors.
  2. You must show the activity requires nothing more than access to the land.

Thus, because the landowner was not protected by the high liability standard under the Recreational Land Use Act, the plaintiff only had to prove the lower standard of negligence for the landowner to be held liable for the injury.

Recreational Activity Injuries: Insurance Advice & Tips

When adding fun things to your property, like a pool, trampoline, or zipline, for example, it is important that you make sure you are protected. At Sinas Dramis, we recommend that if you do one of these things, you call your homeowner’s insurance agent, let them know about the new activity, and figure out if you are covered under your current policy. If you are not, you should purchase additional insurance. Unfortunately, these things can happen, and the cases can get complicated, so it’s important that if you’re injured, you speak with a competent Michigan personal injury lawyer, to review your case. Click here for a free consultation.