As the second largest state in the U.S., Texas has a diverse range of terrain making it a great state for recreationalists. However, in Texas, approximately 95% of all the land is privately owned and landowners are not required to allow others on their land. To encourage landowners to open up their property for the public’s recreational use, Texas lawmakers have passed a recreational use statute (RUS). Texas recreationalists should be aware of the state’s RUS, as it can limit an accident victim’s ability to recover for their injuries through a Texas premises liability lawsuit, even if their injuries were the result of a landowner’s negligence.
Texas Statutes Chapter 75 discusses limitations on a landowner’s liability. Collectively, these statutes constitute the Texas RUS. Specific to this discussion, sections 75.002 and 75.003 pertain to the private, non-agricultural land that is used for recreational purposes. The RUS defines recreational activity broadly, including hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, hiking, exploring, bicycling, dog-walking, and “pleasure driving”, among other activities.
Under the Texas RUS, a landowner who gives permission for others to enter their property for recreational purposes does not assure that the property is safe and does not owe their guest any greater duty than they would owe to a trespasser. Similarly, the landowner cannot be held liable for any injuries that are caused by the guest while on their property.
Importantly, landowners who charge a fee for the use of their land may not benefit from the protections of the RUS, depending on the amount of the fee that is charged by the landowner. Specifically, the landowner will only be entitled to protection under the RUS if the total fees charged for the use of the property for the previous calendar year are less than 20 times the property tax for the previous year.
In some cases, a landowner’s conduct rises above mere negligence. When someone is injured on another’s property, and their injury was due to the landowner’s gross negligence, bad faith, or intentional conduct, then the RUS will not bar the accident victim’s recovery. It is worth noting that this exception can apply in situations where a landowner knows about a dangerous hazard on their property but fails to act to correct the hazard.
While the Texas RUS can present a problem for some injury victims, there are many ways to get around its application. Anyone who has been injured while on another’s property should consult with a dedicated Texas injury attorney.
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If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Texas slip-and-fall accident, or any other injury that occurred while on another’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the San Antonio personal injury law firm of Carabin Shaw, we represent injury victims across Texas in premises liability cases, as well as car accident cases, medical malpractice cases, and wrongful death cases. To learn more, and to speak with one of our dedicated Texas injury lawyers today call 800-862-1260 to schedule a free consultation today.