• Nov
    06
    Posted in:
    Posted by: Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr

    Can I File a Premises Liability Suit if I’m Injured on Public Hunting Land?

    Hunting is just one type of recreation that people can pursue on public land, but because it involves the use of weaponry, it carries an additional aura of risk.  The truth is that hunting injuries are relatively infrequent, and fatalities are even rarer: in 2019 there were only 26 hunting-related injuries in the state of Pennsylvania and four fatalities. When injuries occur on public land, whether as a result of hunting or some other recreational activity, people need to know their rights, especially whether they are eligible to file a premises liability suit.

    The law that controls liability in the state of Pennsylvania is called the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act, or RULWA. Other states have very similar laws. The Act limits landowners’ liability for personal injury and property damage if they make their land available to the public for recreation. This applies specifically to private individuals who let recreational users onto their land for recreational purposes like hunting, fishing or camping. It was passed to encourage private landowners to make their property available and provides that they do not have to keep their land safe and have no duty to warn of dangerous conditions as long as they don’t charge an entrance fee for access. This means that as long as private property owners don’t charge for use of their land, they are immunized from any negligence claims.

    When it comes to government-owned land, the law that applies is the Tort Claims and Sovereign Immunity Acts. It grants the state governmental immunity, and shields municipalities and commonwealth agencies from claims of willful misconduct. They can be vulnerable to claims of premises liability when negligent acts apply, but if an injury occurs on land that is being used for the same type of recreational activities referenced above, the public agencies are granted the same total immunity as the private landowners.

    The definition of recreational activities covered under the RULWA laws is very broad, and described as “any activity undertaken or viewed for exercise, sport, education, recreation, relaxation or pleasure and includes but is not limited to any of the following, or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, recreational non-commercial aircraft operations or recreational noncommercial ultralight operations on private airstrips, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle and motorcycle riding, nature study, water skiing, water sports, cave exploration and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic or scientific sites.”

    Though the list is long, if you’ve been hurt on public lands it still may be worthwhile to seek guidance from an attorney about whether you are entitled to file a premises liability lawsuit. Call us today to learn more.

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