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Georgia Court Issues Another Opinion Discussing the State’s Recreational-Use Statute

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia premises liability lawsuit requiring the court to determine whether the defendant landowner was immune from liability under Georgia’s recreational-use statute. Ultimately, the court determined that the recreational-use statute did provide immunity to the landowner, and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who died while riding a four-wheeler on the defendant’s property. The deceased was a member of a hunting club that was set up by a friend. The friend had arranged to lease some of the defendant’s land solely for the purposes of hunting. The lease contemplated that others would be accompanying the decedent’s friend, but no one else was granted explicit permission to use the land in the lease.

On the day of the accident, the plaintiff’s husband was riding a four-wheeler, scouting out a good location to hunt. During his scouting expedition, the man ran over an old well and fell inside, where he sadly died.

The plaintiff’s wife filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that he was negligent in failing to keep the property safe. The defendant claimed that he was entitled to immunity because Georgia’s recreational-use statute grants immunity to a landowner “who gives permission to another person to hunt, fish, or take wildlife upon the land with or without charge.”

The plaintiff argued that her case was not within the reach of the recreational-use statute for two reasons. First, she claimed that her husband was never given specific permission to be on the land because the lease only mentioned his friend, who was a party to the lease. Second, the plaintiff claimed that her husband was not actually hunting at the time and was only on the land in preparation for a hunt.

The court rejected both of the plaintiff’s arguments and applied the recreational-use statute to preclude her claim. The court explained that the lease specifically contemplated that other people would be on the land for hunting purposes, so specific permission was not needed in order for the recreational-use statute to apply. Additionally, the court held that if the plaintiff’s husband was on the land for purposes other than hunting, he would be classified as a trespasser. And if the plaintiff’s husband was trespassing, the defendant did not owe him a duty of care to maintain the land, only to refrain from causing a willful or intentional injury.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia slip-and-fall accident, or has been injured on another party’s property in another type of accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at the McAleer Law Firm have extensive experience representing victims in a wide range of claims, including premises liability lawsuits. To learn more, call 404-622-5337.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Affirms Teacher’s Immunity in Recent Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 14, 2018.

Georgia Medical Malpractice Case Dismissed Based on Inadmissible Expert Testimony, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, January 4, 2018.