The great outdoors is part of Washington’s identity
If you live in or visit Washington, you know how valuable outdoor recreation is here.
It is valuable in the sense that people here spend a great deal of time having fun in the outdoors. According to the Governor’s Office, Washingtonians spend about 56 days outside each year, on average.
It is also valuable in the sense that it generates a lot of economic activity. Outdoor recreation accounts for over $21 billion in annual expenditures in the state, and it supports almost 200,000 jobs.
Outdoor recreation can cause injury
Some people are attracted to the outdoors because of the inherent risk. They get a rush from doing dangerous activities like hunting, rock climbing, off-roading, and so on. They get a sense of pride from exposing themselves to the elements–far away from any human-made thing.
Some take a more leisurely approach, preferring to enjoy nature through fishing, camping, picnicking, swimming, hiking, or bicycling.
Outdoorsy folks generally accept that any injuries they sustain are their fault. However, there are some instances where they don’t have to bear the responsibility on their own.
What the law says about premises liability
According to the Washington State Legislature, people who own public or private land for outdoor recreation cannot be held liable for any unintentional injuries that their visitors sustain.
This means that if someone falls off their bicycle, twists their ankle while hiking, or otherwise injures themselves accidentally on these lands, the landowner is not legally obligated to compensate them for their medical treatment or other damages stemming from the injury.
However, there is an exception to this rule. If a visitor gets injured because of a known, dangerous artificial latent condition for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted, the landowner could be held liable.
Seeking justice for an outdoor recreation injury
If you believe you were wrongfully injured while doing an outdoor activity, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The conditions under which a landowner can be held liable are minimal, so you will need their expertise to get the best outcome possible.