Georgia Recreational Use Statute

Suppose you owned land next to a river. You might have concerns about liability for people getting out of canoes or kayaks onto your land. But you’re in luck! Georgia state law says you’re not liable for most things that could happen.

The Georgia Recreational Use Statute is in O.C.G.A. §51-3-20 through §51-3-26. Here are a few excerpts.

§51-3-20. Purpose of article

The purpose of this article is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting the owners’ liability toward persons entering thereon for recreational purposes.

Does that include boating?

§51-3-21. (4) “Recreational purpose” includes, but is not limited to, any of the following or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing, winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archeological, scenic, or scientific sites.

Yes, it includes boating, hiking, picnicking, and other things people might be doing on or nearby a river. So what liability is covered?

§51-3-22. Duty of owner of land to those using same for recreation generally

Except as specifically recognized by or provided in Code Section 51-3-25, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the premises to persons entering for recreational purposes.

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1965, p. 476, s 3.

O.C.G.A. § 51-3-23 (1994)

§51-3-23. Effect of invitation or permission to use land for recreation

Except as specifically recognized by or provided in Code Section 51-3-25, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use the property for recreational purposes does not thereby:

(1) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose;

(2) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; or

(3) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act of omission of such persons.

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1965, p. 476, s 4.

There’s a bit more in the statute, and while I’m not a lawyer, it looks to me like unless a landowner deliberately makes it unsafe for people to step ashore or gain access, the landowner is not liable if someone falls and breaks a leg or is otherwise injured after coming ashore from a river. I don’t know what it would take to be liable; maybe not even deliberately closing off a public road leading to a river, if people could still walk over the barricade.