What’s the deal with hazardous Recreational Activity and our liability?

Recreational Activities are sometimes dangerous.  Section 831.7 of California Gov’t Code limits the amount of liabilities to public entities and employees of those public entities.  The catch is that you can’t charge specific fees for the event.  Also if you fail to warn of dangers that are inherently understood or you fail to guard against dangerous conditions, the the limit of your liability is diminished.  See sections of code below.

Govt Code 831.7. (a) Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable
to any person who participates in a hazardous recreational activity
including any person who assists the participant, or to any spectator
who knew or reasonably should have known that the hazardous
recreational activity created a substantial risk of injury to himself
or herself and was voluntarily in the place of risk, or having the
ability to do so failed to leave, for any damage or injury to
property or persons arising out of that hazardous recreational

(b) As used in this section, “hazardous recreational activity”
means a recreational activity conducted on property of a public
entity which creates a substantial (as distinguished from a minor,
trivial, or insignificant) risk of injury to a participant or a

“Hazardous recreational activity” also means:
(1) Water contact activities, except diving, in places where or at
a time when lifeguards are not provided and reasonable warning
thereof has been given or the injured party should reasonably have
known that there was no lifeguard provided at the time.
(2) Any form of diving into water from other than a diving board
or diving platform, or at any place or from any structure where
diving is prohibited and reasonable warning thereof has been given.
(3) Animal riding, including equestrian competition, archery,
bicycle racing or jumping, mountain bicycling, boating, cross-country
and downhill skiing, hang gliding, kayaking, motorized vehicle
racing, off-road motorcycling or four-wheel driving of any kind,
orienteering, pistol and rifle shooting, rock climbing, rocketeering,
rodeo, spelunking, sky diving, sport parachuting, paragliding, body
contact sports (i.e., sports in which it is reasonably foreseeable
that there will be rough bodily contact with one or more
participants), surfing, trampolining, tree climbing, tree rope
swinging, waterskiing, white water rafting, and windsurfing. For the
purposes of this subdivision, “mountain bicycling” does not include
riding a bicycle on paved pathways, roadways, or sidewalks.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a), this
section does not limit liability which would otherwise exist for any
of the following:

(1) Failure of the public entity or employee to guard or warn of a
known dangerous condition
or of another hazardous recreational
activity known to the public entity or employee that is not
reasonably assumed by the participant as inherently a part of the
hazardous recreational activity out of which the damage or injury
(2) Damage or injury suffered in any case where permission to
participate in the hazardous recreational activity was granted for a
specific fee.
For the purpose of this paragraph, a “specific fee”
does not include a fee or consideration charged for a general purpose
such as a general park admission charge, a vehicle entry or parking
fee, or an administrative or group use application or permit fee, as
distinguished from a specific fee charged for participation in the
specific hazardous recreational activity out of which the damage or
injury arose.
(3) Injury suffered to the extent proximately caused by the
negligent failure of the public entity or public employee to properly
construct or maintain in good repair any structure, recreational
equipment or machinery, or substantial work of improvement utilized
in the hazardous recreational activity out of which the damage or
injury arose.
(4) Damage or injury suffered in any case where the public entity
or employee recklessly or with gross negligence promoted the
participation in or observance of a hazardous recreational activity.
For purposes of this paragraph, promotional literature or a public
announcement or advertisement which merely describes the available
facilities and services on the property does not in itself constitute
a reckless or grossly negligent promotion.
(5) An act of gross negligence by a public entity or a public
employee which is the proximate cause of the injury.
Nothing in this subdivision creates a duty of care or basis of
liability for personal injury or for damage to personal property.
(d) Nothing in this section shall limit the liability of an
independent concessionaire, or any person or organization other than
the public entity, whether or not the person or organization has a
contractual relationship with the public entity to use the public
property, for injuries or damages suffered in any case as a result of
the operation of a hazardous recreational activity on public
property by the concessionaire, person, or organization.

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