In a recent op-ed in the Colorado Sun, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association (CTLA) tried to absolve themselves of any blame for the recent outdoor recreation closures in Colorado. They pointed the finger at insurance companies, claiming that the insurers are scaring landowners and acting only for their profit margins. But is that the whole story? Or is the CTLA attempting to scapegoat insurance companies while ignoring genuine concerns?
The Blame is not Just on Insurance Companies
The CTLA presents the issue as if it’s merely a battle between insurance companies and landowners, completely overlooking the broader concerns. Many in the legal community, landowners across the state, and non-profits like Colorado Fourteeners Initiative agree that a recent lawsuit has created new, unanswered legal questions. These questions, which revolve around the meaning of the phrase ‘willful or malicious,’ pose real risks to landowners in a way they didn’t previously.
The issue is not just about one successful lawsuit but about the implications it has on the existing statutes. The CTLA’s opposition to any changes in the law, even though multiple areas are closing, is concerning.
The False Security of the Current Law
The CTLA’s argument that the existing law is a balanced solution doesn’t hold water. The recent closures suggest that the law isn’t encouraging owners to post warnings – it’s encouraging them to post no trespassing signs. This frees them from liability risk but leaves thousands of unsuspecting hikers without safety expectations.
Many report in surveys they didn’t realize they were trespassing, hiking on unmaintained trails, near rugged mining tunnels and remains that collapse periodically without warning. This is not just a legal issue but a massive public safety concern.
The Real Threat to Landowners
The CTLA claims that the current law has worked well for a generation. However, the reality is that the landowners do not feel entirely protected from liability, which was the original purpose of the CRUS. The very fact that liability insurance is deemed necessary undercuts their argument that landowners are safe.
If landowners felt truly protected from liability, liability insurance would be unnecessary. But they don’t, and the blame for this can be squarely placed on the CTLA, not just insurance companies. Additionally, Mt. Lindsey closed more than two years ago due to liability concerns among its owners, long before insurance rates started to spike.
Attacking Insurance Companies Isn’t the Solution
The recent opinion piece by the CTLA paints a one-sided picture that fails to address the real problems faced by landowners, hikers, and the community at large. It’s time to look beyond the simplified narrative that it’s just the insurance companies at fault.
By refusing to address genuine concerns and ignoring the call for a balanced solution, the CTLA is doing a disservice to the outdoor enthusiasts they claim to represent. They may claim to be advocates for public safety and access, but their stance on this issue reveals a lack of responsibility and a willingness to ignore the very real risks that outdoor recreation closures in Colorado are posing to both landowners and the public.
Join Us and Help Protect Outdoor Recreation Access in Colorado
It’s time for a real dialogue and thoughtful changes to ensure that the genuine concerns of all stakeholders are addressed, not just the interests of the legal community. After all, the beauty of Colorado’s outdoors should be something we all can enjoy, responsibly and safely. The Fix CRUS Coalition is working hard to make this happen – we encourage you to join us in this fight.
To learn more and support this mission, visit www.fixCRUS.org.