Check it Out!
[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]
[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index] [Subject Index]

Federal Government and Liability

Teddy commented that at the "Horse Trails in Forest Ecosystems"
recently held at Clemson University in South Carolina she learned that,
because many federal parks and national forests are now charging user
fees for trail use, the feds are now exposed to liability lawsuits.

I don't remember what was said quite that way.  What I remember was that
the speaker (Denise Farris of the Farris Law from in Kansas City
Missouri (, in her talk on "Legal Impact of
Limited Liability Act and Volunteer Protection Act on Landowners and
Equine Sponsors/Participants") said if a *private* individual or
charges for use of their land, then you are definitely upping the ante
your liability exposure.  She described several different levels of
that one could have based on the kind of relationship the landowner had
to the
person using the land.  Fee-for-use creates the highest liability. 
only for fee-for-use with children involved!)

There was question from the audience.  "Does that mean that, since that
the Feds are charging user fees, they are now subject to liability?"
The response was that user fees, federal lands, and liability were
completely unexplored legal territory.  Generally, the feds have *not*
been subject to the same liability exposure under the same sets of
circumstances as private individuals have been.  It is likely that
federal government agencies will continue to maintain that, despite the
introduction of user fees, they and their employees are not subject to
the same liability exposure as a private landowner charging for use of
their land.  Should such a question arise, there may be congressional
action that would spell out what liability, if any, would exist.
(Heck, if Congress can pass a law saying you can't sue your HMO if it
fails to cover you, they can pass a law to protect their own Park and
Forest services!)

However, we'll all have to sit tight and see what happens when the
first horseback rider or mountain biker takes a tumble and decides to
jeopardize the entire national park/forest system by suing over it.

Does anybody else who attended remember more or better what was said on
this particular point?  I do remember her saying that, according to
a national insurance rating system, all trail riding is classified as
a "Rugged Outdoor Adventure."

Linda B. Merims
Massachusetts, USA

    Check it Out!    

Home Events Groups Rider Directory Market RideCamp Stuff

Back to TOC