RECREATION USE OF LAND & WATER ACT
The Recreation Use of Land and Water Act (RULWA) aims “to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability.”
Who’s Protected and When
The Act protects public and private landowners from liability for simple negligence for injuries arising out of the free recreational use of lands and waters. Pennsylvania courts have held that an easement holder who has sufficient control over a piece of property so as to be deemed in possession also may benefit from liability protection under the Act.4 Under Pennsylvania precedents, the Act applies to lands that are largely unimproved in character and where no admission fee is charged.
When the Act Doesn’t Apply
Landowners can still be liable for “willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition.” Landowners may be liable when they have actual knowledge of a dangerous condition and the danger is not obvious to those entering the land.
Implications of Allowing Public Access
RULWA protects owners of unimproved property held open for free public use for fishing, boating, hunting and other recreational purposes. However, landowners must recognize that the scope of RULWA’s protection is not completely clear.