A recent state Supreme Court decision upheld a ruling declaring the City of East Providence is not liable for a teenager’s bicycle crash injuries that occurred in a city park. The incident, which took place in 2010, involved a teen who suffered a broken arm in a bike accident in Rumford’s Glenlyon Park. Then 17-year-old, Austin Yattaw, suffered a double compound fracture to his left arm after being thrown from his bike while riding down a grassy slope on the side of a stairway at the park. The front tire of his bike wedged in between a crack in the retaining wall below causing him to be thrown from the bike resulting in injury. In 2013, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Yattaw alleging the City of East Providence was negligent in maintaining the park and was responsible for his injuries. The city is protected by the state’s Recreational Use statute. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, we are familiar with this term, but most people aren’t familiar with this state law and how it protects certain Rhode Island land owners.
What is Rhode Island’s Recreational Use Statute?
The purpose of the state’s Recreational Use statute is to “encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability to persons entering thereon for those purposes”, as stated in Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 32-6 Public Use of Private Lands – Liability Limitations. By allowing use of the land for recreational purposes, either directly or indirectly without charge, the landowner is essentially not liable and does not extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose. The land owner does not assume responsibility for, or incur liability for, any injury to a person caused by an act of omission on the part of that person, nor does the land owner owe a “duty of care” to that same person.