The Illinois Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act, 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/1 et seq., contains a limitation of liability that will serve as a defense in certain actions.
In a recent decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, however, the Court ruled that the protections of the Act do not apply when the property at issue is used only by invited guests. In order to apply, the property must be open for use by the general public. Hall v. Henn, 802 N.E.2d 797 (Ill. 2003) (in injury case arising out of an invitation to use a sled run, the limitation of liability contained in the act was not applicable because the property owner had not opened the property to the general public).
In Hall, the Illinois Supreme Court summarized the Act's provisions as follows:
The Recreational Use of Land And Water Areas Act (the Act) exists "to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational or conservation purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes." 745 ILCS 65/1 (West 2002). To that end, the Act provides that owners of land owe "no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by any person for recreational or conservation purposes, or to give any warning of a natural or artificial dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on such premises to persons entering for such purposes." 745 ILCS 65/3 (West 2002). In addition, the Act provides that:
"an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use such property for recreational or conservation purposes does not thereby:
(a) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose.
(b) Confer upon such person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed.
(c) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act or omission of such person or any other person who enters upon the land.
(d) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to such person or property caused by any natural or artificial condition, structure or personal property on the premises." 745 ILCS 65/4 (West 2002).
The Act does not immunize landowners who engage in wilful and wanton conduct, nor does it apply to landowners who charge a fee for the use of their property. 745 ILCS 65/6 (West 2002).