Update Colorado Recreational Use Statute
The bill amends the Colorado recreational use statute (CRUS).
- The CRUS allows an owner to be found liable for "willful or malicious" failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause "harm". Section 4 limits this exception to apply only to malicious failures and amends the exception to apply to a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause "harm or death".
- The CRUS includes an exception in cases in which an owner imposes a charge upon a person who goes on the land for recreational purposes. Section 4 removes certain language from this exception that is redundant with language that appears elsewhere in the CRUS.
- The CRUS includes an exception concerning attractive nuisances. Section 4 provides that if a property used for public recreational purposes contains active or inactive agricultural operations; active or inactive mining operations, gravel operations, or other mineral and energy development; or certain water structures, neither the property nor the agricultural operations, nor the mining or gravel operations or other development, nor the water or water structures constitute an attractive nuisance.
- The CRUS allows an owner to be held liable for injury received on land incidental to the use of land on which a commercial or business enterprise of any description is being carried on. However, when land is leased to a public entity for recreational purposes or a public entity has been granted an easement or other right to use land for recreational purposes, the land is not considered to be land upon which a business or commercial enterprise is being carried on. Section 4 removes this qualification from the exception.
Current law allows the prevailing party in any civil action brought by a recreational user for damages against a landowner who allows the use of the landowner's property for public recreational purposes to recover the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court. Section 6 states that in the event that an action is commenced by any party, the prevailing party is entitled to recover all fees, costs, and expenses, including fees and expenses of attorneys and experts and fees and expenses associated with appeals of the court's decision.
- Determine any or all of the recreational purposes that are allowed on the owner's land;
- Identify areas of the land where recreational purposes are allowed or not allowed; or
- Restrict persons from engaging in recreational purposes on the owner's land.
Section 7 also describes means by which an owner who elects to take any of these actions may provide notice to the public of such actions. Section 7 also states that except as otherwise provided in the CRUS:
- An owner owes no duty of care to keep the owner's premises safe for entry by other persons for recreational purposes or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the premises to persons entering the land for such purposes; and
- Neither the installation of a sign or other form of warning of a dangerous condition, nor the failure to maintain or keep in place any sign or other warning, nor the failure to make any modification to improve safety creates any liability on the part of an owner when there is no other basis for liability.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)