With the litigious society that we live in these days, Hunting Lease Insurance has become a staple for most fee hunting operations. Landowners realize that they must protect themselves from suit whether it be a legitimate case or a frivolous one. All 50 states have adopted a “recreational user” statute that limits the landowner’s liability when the property is used for recreational purposes and no fee or other benefit is received. The purpose of this law is to encourage landowners to open their property for public recreation thus reducing the state’s expenses of providing public land for such purposes.
When landowners offer hunting leases and accept a fee (or any other benefit) for hunting on their property, they take on legal responsibility for the safety of the hunters. The paying hunter becomes an “invitee” and the law states that landowners have a “duty of ordinary and reasonable care” to their invitees. The landowner’s responsibilities change considerably according to the legal status of the visitor. The courts recognize three classifications of visitors on the property of the owner. They are trespassers, licensees and invitees.
An owner’s only obligation to a trespasser is to use due care to avoid injuring the trespasser if his presence is known. A landowner is exposed to little, if any, successful action against him should an accident befall a trespasser. The owner is only obligated to protect the trespasser from intentional injury. A licensee is one who enters the property with the owner’s permission but there is no economic benefit to the landowner. The landowner has no obligation to make the premises safe for the licensee, but must warn of known dangers. When a landowner establishes a fee for some activity on his premises, it places the patron into the classification of invitee. Landowner responsibilities increase when a charge for land use is involved. Legally, invitees are owed the highest level of care to prevent injury. A landowner is liable in a court of law for injuries resulting from failure to provide reasonable safety to the invitee. He will not, however, be liable if he adequately warns the invitee of a known danger, or if the dangerous conditions causing injury are such that a reasonable inspection of the premises by the landowner would not have revealed the danger.
Nobody can predict how someone will react when put under extreme stress. Lots of folks say, “Bob would never sue me so I don’t need liability insurance.” It might not be Bob that sues you, instead Bob’s wife now that she has no working husband to support her shopping habits, or your neighbor that Bob accidently shot. Hunting Lease Insurance is inexpensive peace of mind so give it consideration when you sign your next hunting lease agreement.