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Ohio Recreational User Law

A political subdivision has derivative immunity from tort liability to a recreational user of municipal property to the same extent that an owner of private land has such immunity under R.C. 1533.181.

Under the statute, the General Assembly has shielded owners of private land from liability to recreational users in three particular ways:

"(A) No owner, lessee, or occupant of premises:

"(1) Owes any duty to a recreational user to keep the premises safe for entry or use;

"(2) Extends any assurance to a recreational user, through the act of giving permission, that the premises are safe for entry or use;

"(3) Assumes responsibility for or incurs liability for any injury to person or property caused by any act of a recreational user." R.C. 1533.181(A).

However, these statutory limitations on liability are available only where the "land on which the injury occurred" is held open to the general public for "gratuitous recreational use."

The legislative purpose behind this statute is to "encourage owners of premises suitable for recreational pursuits to open their lands for public use." Loyer v. Buchholz (1988), 38 Ohio St. 3d 65, 66, 526 N.E.2d 300, 301; LiCause v. Canton (1989), 42 Ohio St. 3d 109, 537 N.E.2d 1298.

R.C. 1533.18(B) defines "recreational user" to mean:

"A person to whom permission has been granted, without the payment of a fee or consideration 13 to the owner, lessee, or occupant of premises, other than a fee or consideration paid to the state or any agency thereof, to enter upon premises to hunt, fish, trap, camp, hike, swim, or engage in other recreational pursuits".