Property owners generally understand that they are responsible for the safety of the guests they welcome onto their property. Owners are liable for any unsafe or dangerous conditions, if they know, or should have known about the condition, and, subsequently, failed to fix it or warn their guests. Nonetheless, premises liability also extends beyond residential property.

Illinois property owners may be interested in a recent law passed regarding landowner liability for land used for recreational or conservation purposes. The governor signed a bill into law that upped the liability protections for landowners who allowed public access onto their property for things like biking, hiking, fishing and bird watching.

The new law was meant to mirror the premises liability laws in other states. As of seven years ago, Illinois was the only state that restricted liability protections for property owners who invited the public onto their land for recreational use. Over the course of time, this restriction slowly limited the number of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts across the state.

The thought was that landowners may have been hesitant to open their property up to the public for fear of legal repercussions related to premises liability. Previously, the law only extended the liability protections to public access for hunting and shooting-related sports. Hopefully, landowners will now feel more comfortable in offering up their land for recreational and conservation purposes.

While the new law does extended liability protection for certain landowners, it certainly does not limit liability entirely. Property owners, regardless of the use or purpose of their property, still owe a certain duty to guests and visitors, depending on the circumstances. Anyone who is injured on another person&s property due to a breach of that duty may be able to recover compensation for those damages or injuries with the help of a Chicago premises liability lawyer.

Source: The Telegraph, "Law limits landowner liability on public access," Aug. 24, 2013.