Recreational Use Statutes
Most, if not all, of the New Hampshire statutes that govern landowner liability when members of the public are allowed to use private, Federal, State, or municipal lands free of charge are listed below. These statues are generally referred to as "recreational use" statutes. The limited liability in all of the recreational use statutes is based on the premise that the public is allowed to use the property without being charged a fee by the landowner to use the property.
All of these statutes apply to the State Trail System on which OHRVs are ridden.
RSA 508:14, I - An owner, occupant, or lessee of land, including the state or any political subdivision, who without charge permits any person to use land for recreational purposes or as a spectator of recreational activity, shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage in the absence of intentionally caused injury or damage.
RSA 215-A:34, II - It is recognized that OHRV operation may be hazardous. Therefore, each person who drives or rides an OHRV accepts, as a matter of law, the dangers inherent in the sport, and shall not maintain an action against an owner, occupant, or lessee of land for any injuries, which result from such inherent risks, dangers, or hazards. The categories of such risks, hazards, or dangers which the OHRV user assumes as a matter of law include, but are not limited to, the following: variations in terrain, trails, paths or roads, surface or subsurface snow or ice conditions, bare spots, rocks, trees, stumps, and other forms of forest growth or debris, structures on the land, equipment not in use, pole lines, fences, and collisions with other operators or persons.
RSA 216-F:3 - No person who has granted a right of way for a trail across his land, or his successor in title, shall be liable to any user of the trail for injuries, suffered on said portion of the trail unless the same are caused by the willful or wanton misconduct of the grantor or such successor in title, as the case may be.
RSA 212:34 Duty of Care. -
- An owner, lessee or occupant of premises owes no duty of care to keep such premises safe for entry or use by others for hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, horseback riding, water sports, winter sports, snowmobiling, or OHRVs as defined in RSA 215-A, hiking, sightseeing, or removal of fuel wood, or to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such premises to persons entering for such purposes, except as provided in paragraph III hereof.
- An owner, lessee or occupant of premises who gives permission to another to hunt, fish, trap, camp, ride horseback, hike, use snowmobiles as defined in RSA 215-C, use OHRVs as defined in RSA 215-A, sightsee upon, or remove fuel wood from, such premises, or use said premises for water sports, or winter sports does not thereby:
- Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for such purpose, or
- Constitute the person to whom permission has been granted the legal status of an invitee to whom a duty of care is owed, or
- Assume responsibility for or incur liability for an injury to person or property caused by any act of such person to whom permission has been granted except as provided in paragraph III hereof.
- This section does not limit the liability which otherwise exists:
- For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity; or
- For injury suffered in any case where permission to hunt, fish, trap, camp, ride horseback, hike, use for water sports, winter sports, use of snowmobiles as defined in RSA 215-C, or use of OHRVs as defined in RSA 215-A, sightsee, or remove fuel wood was granted for a consideration other than the consideration, if any, paid to said landowner by the state; or
- The injury caused by acts of persons to whom permission to hunt, fish, trap, camp, ride horseback, hike, use for water sports, winter sports, use of snowmobiles as defined in RSA 215-C, or use of OHRVs as defined in RSA 215-A, sightsee, or remove fuel wood was granted, to third persons as to whom the person granting permission, or the owner, lessee or occupant of the premises, owed a duty to keep the premises safe or to warn of danger.
- Except as provided in paragraph III, a person using the premises as provided in paragraph I or given permission as provided in paragraph II, shall not maintain an action against the owner, occupant, or lessee of the premises for any injury which resulted while on the premises.