Yes- Liability waivers are an absolute necessity when you are providing a service or recreational opportunity where there is any amount of risk involved to the participant, guest, or client. Liability waivers explain these risks to the at-risk individual, and the individual can make an informed decision whether they wish to accept those risks in order to participate in the offered activity. But are there other ways that landowners, farmers, and ranchers can protect themselves when leasing their property for hunting?
Texas Statutory Protection: Recreational Use Statute
All landowners who invite other individuals onto their property for recreational purposes can avail themselves of the protections provided by the Texas Recreational Use Statute, Chapter 75, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, if they fit the requirements for doing so. Under this statute, landowners who invite others onto their property for recreation purposes do not “assume responsibility or incur liability for any injury to any individual or property caused by any act of the person to whom permission is granted or to whom the invitation is extended.” Essentially, if you come on the property to hunt, you are doing so at your own risk.
However, this statute only applies to those landowners who: (1) does not charge for entry to the premises; (2) charges for entry to the premises, but whose total charges collected in the previous calendar year for all recreational use of the entire premises of the owner, lessee, or occupant are not more than 20 times the total amount of ad valorem taxes imposed on the premises for the previous calendar year; or (3) has liability insurance coverage in effect on an act or omission described by Section 75.004(a) and in the amounts equal to or greater than those provided by that section.
Texas Statutory Protection, Part II: Agritourism Statute
In addition to the Recreational Use Statute, ranchers leasing their property for hunting can use the Texas Agritourism Statute to defend against injury claims made by hunters. This statute states simply that, “an agritourism entity is not liable to any person for an agritourism participant injury or damages arising out of the agritourism participant injury.” The “agritourism entity” is the farm or ranch property on which the hunters are hunting.
In order to get protection from claims using the Texas Agritourism Statute, landowners must have two written documents: 1) A clearly visible, posted sign with the warning language provided in the statute and 2) A written warning signed by the participant that contains the exact language as provided in the statute.
Even though the Texas legislature has provided these statutory protections for landowners in Texas, a liability waiver remains a necessity. For more on liability waivers, Click Here. Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert in San Antonio, TX can help draft liability waivers and hunting leases that fit the needs of your operation, whether a small family farm or large scale outfitting company. Drawing on his experiences in the field as an avid hunter, Nate can help clients make the right decisions for their needs.