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Man Paralyzed After Diving into Pond at State Park Unable to Recover Compensation Due to Recreational Use Statute

  1. In a recent case before a state appellate court, a 29-year-old man dove into a pond at a park and broke his neck. Sadly, the man was paralyzed from the neck down as a result. His wife and he filed a claim against the state, alleging negligence and premises liability. At trial, a witness testified that there were “no swimming” signs posted at the recently filled pond, and the state planned to staff the swim area. On the day that the man dove in, there were other people swimming in the pond. The man testified that he thought the water looked deep enough, and he did a shallow dive into the water, but he did not check the depth of the water.

The case went to trial, and the state was not found liable. On appeal, the state’s supreme court agreed with the decision, finding that the state owed no duty to the man. The court found that the state was not responsible for the man’s injuries. First, it found that diving was an open and obvious danger of which he should have been aware. In addition, the court found that the state was protected under the recreational use statute. The state’s recreational use statute limited the liability of landowners when people use the land for recreational purposes without charge. The park would only have been liable if it had willfully or maliciously failed to guard or warn against a dangerous condition or activity—which did not occur in this case. Thus, the man and his family were unable to recover compensation.

Premises Liability in Illinois

Premises liability is based on the idea that owners and occupiers of land have a duty to maintain their premises to some degree in order to help prevent injuries to those who come onto the land. Generally, this duty depends on the type of person who comes onto the land. For example, an owner may have a higher duty to a business guest than to a social guest. In Illinois, however, the Premises Liability Act sets forth many of the laws related to premises liability.

In general, owners and occupiers of land in Illinois do not owe a duty to maintain premises for trespassers, or even to warn them of concealed dangers, but there are some exceptions. In contrast, owners and occupiers owe a duty of reasonable care to licensees and invitees. A licensee is a person who enters with the consent of the owner or occupier, such as a social guest.

An invitee is someone who enters the land for the purpose of business, such as a restaurant patron. However, similar to the statute in the case above, under the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act, landowners do not owe a duty of care to keep their land safe or warn people if the land is open for recreational use without charge.

Do You Have a Premises Liability Claim?

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. Depending on your relationship, as well as the jurisdiction, and other facts surrounding the incident, the landowner may be responsible for dangerous conditions on the premises. At Moll Law Group, our Chicago lawyers are skilled in many personal injury claims, from premises liability to medical malpractice. Our attorneys also provide legal representation to people in Naperville, Schaumburg, Wheaton, and communities throughout Cook County. Call us at 312-462-1700 or use our online form to set up a free consultation.

See More Posts:

Woman Injured on Icy Hotel Sidewalk Fails to Provide Evidence of Hotel’s Duty to Train Employees, Must Retry Case, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, July 9, 2016.

Court Finds Nursing Home Waived Its Right to Arbitration Despite Signed Arbitration Clause, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2016.

Court Dismisses Case After Failure to Pay Filing Fee Within Statute of Limitations, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, June 25, 2016.

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