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.
There are, however, limitations to the Recreational Use statute. There may be exceptions where the Rhode Island land owner can be held liable “for the willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity after discovering the users’ peril”, or for any injury suffered to a person where the owner of the land charged the person to enter or use the land for recreational purposes. There are exceptions to this particular limitation when the land is leased to the state.
Lawsuit Claims Negligence Caused Injury
Yattaw’s lawsuit alleged that the city was negligent in maintaining the park. However, Superior Court Justice Richard A. Licht found no evidence that the city was aware of a defect in the retaining wall, was not negligent, and is therefore protected by the Recreational Use statute. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court where the Superior Court’s ruling was upheld that the city of East Providence is not responsible for Yattaw’s injuries, according to the state’s Recreational Use statute.
Recreational Use Statute Upheld in Tragic Woonsocket Diving Accident
The Recreational Use statute was notably the subject of a tragic Supreme Court case that found the State of Rhode Island not responsible after a man broke his neck after a dive into the water at World War II Veterans Memorial Park in Woonsocket. The 29-year-old man, Brett A. Roy, was paralyzed from the neck down in the 2008 accident and later died in 2016. A very difficult decision to make, the court concluded that the state was not liable for the man’s injuries and was protected by the Recreational Use statute. Based on the statute, the land owner did not owe a duty to keep visitors to the property safe from their own actions. Visitors engaged in a sport or activity must assume their own risk.
Contact an East Providence Injury Lawyer After Your Accident
There are many times however, where another party can be held liable for your personal injury. The East Providence accident lawyers at Tapalian Law have helped people hurt in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle crashes, caused by the fault of another, seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and emotional suffering. If you, or a loved one, are hurt in a crash or collision caused by someone else’s negligence, its important to protect your legal rights. Seek out the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney in East Providence. Our personal injury firm has been helping victims of accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for over 20 years. We offer a free consultation with Attorney David Tapalian, who will listen to the details of your claim, gather pertinent information about your injury such as police reports and medical records, and explain what legal options are available to you. Call Tapalian Law at 401-552-5000, or contact us online. Let us begin helping you today.