In general, landowners are responsible for keeping their property in a reasonably safe condition for their guests. However, New Hampshire has laws that limit landowners’ liability for injuries that occur on their property. Lawmakers designed these limited liability statues to encourage owners to open their land for public use. Although the idea behind these statutes makes sense on some level, the laws present significant challenges to injury victims seeking compensation for their injuries. In effect, the statutes provide property owners, lessees, and occupants who permit the public to use their land without cost with far-reaching protections against liability.
As a general matter, property owners do not owe any duty of care to individuals who enter their land for recreational purposes or to observe recreational activities. As such, the law does not impute any liability for personal injury or property damage that a recreational user may claim. The statute is so broad that owners do not even maintain the duty to inspect their property, provide warnings for hazardous conditions, or keep the property safe for entry.
However, the statute does not apply to situations where the owner engages in intentional or malicious conduct that results in injuries. Further, the statute does not protect landowners that charge an admission cost, collect a fee, or receive any other type of consideration to use their land. Further, the statute does not protect landowners when a recreational user causes injuries to another person to whom the owner owes a duty.