Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Senate limits landowners' liability in hunting accidents

A Pennsylvania bill, which was approved 48-0 by the state Senate, could remove liability for farmers and landowners who open their property to hunters who then violate the Pennsylvania Game Code on that land. The bill moves to the House with the backing of farmers and landowners.

The bill was introduced in response to an accidental shooting in 2004. A pregnant woman was shot in the head while sitting in her car outside her home. The hunter and an orchard were found liable for her injury.

The farmers pushed for this bill because, even though game animals were ruining their land, the risk of being responsible for hunters on their property (which is what happened to the orchard) was not worth opening up their land.

Recreation Use of Land and Water Act

In 1966, the Recreation Use of Land and Water Act was passed in order to protect landowners. RULWA protects landowners from liability for activities such as swimming, hunting, boating, picnicking and hiking on their property.

However, there are some guidelines landowners must abide by in order to be protected by RULWA. Landowners may still be liable for hunting accidents that occur on their land if they do not abide by the following guidelines:

  • The landowner should not charge a fee to hunt on his or her property
  • Even though it is private property, the landowner should clearly mark dangerous areas with posted signs
  • Hunting stands should be built according to code and maintained for safety

RULWA is not a "get out of jail free" card. In many cases, landowners can still be held accountable for incidents that take place on their land, whether or not they are related to hunting.

Source: The Express-Times, "Pennsylvania Senate passes measure limiting landowner liability for hunting violations," Sarah Peters, May 27, 2012

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