Common Law Rule Modern Changes
Though these traditional categorizations for a visitor are rooted deep in English history, the terms are not always enforced in the same way. The traditional liabilities a landowner faces in regards to injury can sometimes be streamlined by a universal statute regarding real estate laws. Some states have removed the concept of varying categories of visitors completely, and instead demand that a landowner reasonably protect all visitors from potential injury and harm. These statutes regard all visitors as equal, regardless of a visitor’s motivation to enter a property.
These statutes reinforce the notion that a landowner keep a property safe and secure because of the ability to foresee injury, maintain one’s property, and ensure an estate’s safety before injury or harm befall a visitor. These states find no difference between a trespasser, a licensee, and an invitee. An additional modern change is the inclusion of recreational use statutes, which protect landowners from liability if they open their land to the free recreational use of their land to visitors.
Recreational Use Statutes
In order to encourage rural landowners to open their lands to the recreational use of the public, states have issued recreational use statutes that negate the liability of a landowner to a visitor who is partaking in recreational activities on an owner’s land. These statutes have encouraged rural landowners to allow the public to hike, fish, hunt, raft, and more on their land because of the increased desire of urban visitors to partake in recreational activities and decreased availability of public land.
By removing the liability of protecting their visitors, landowners can allow the public to utilize their lands for recreational activities. While on an estate protected by a recreational use statute, an owner cannot be held liable for the injury or harm to a visitor or a visitor’s property. These statutes also protect landowners from adverse possession of their lands. Landowners are free to open and close their properties at their own convenience without the fear that public will gain a permanent right to access their land because of continual and long-term use.