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Wisconsin Tree Stand Accidents: Are Landowners Liable?

Wisconsin's deer hunting season begins this Saturday. This means that thousands of Wisconsin hunters will be climbing into tree stands in hopes of getting their next big buck. Although hunting season is meant to be a time to enjoy nature and the company of one's hunting buddies, accidents can and do occur. Last year, a 71-year-old hunter died in Vernon County after falling from his tree stand. Tree stand accidents like this are not uncommon. According to a Wisconsin DNR report, "[o]ne in every three hunters who hunt from a tree stand will fall at some point in their hunting career."

If you are like the hunters in my family, you may get an invitation to hunt on a generous friend's property. If you happen to sustain an injury while hunting in your friend's tree stand, however, your friend is not likely to be liable for your injuries due to Wisconsin's recreational immunity statute, which can be found in Wis. Stat. § 895.52. This statute limits property owners' responsibility for injuries to people who use their land for recreational activities. Such activities include, but are not limited to, hunting, fishing, and trapping.

Under the recreational immunity statute, landowners (with special exceptions) are not legally required to 1) keep their property safe for recreational activity, 2) inspect their property, 3) or give warning of an unsafe condition on their property. Therefore, if you are hunting on a friend's property this season, keep in mind that your friend likely has no duty to keep their tree stands safe for your use.

For a list of exceptions to Wisconsin's recreational immunity statute, please see Wis. Stat. § 895.52(3)-(6).

Legal Representation

If you have been injured while hunting or engaging in another recreational activity and believe an exception to the recreational immunity statute may apply to your case, give us a call at 262-723-3220 to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

Godfrey Law Office wishes all Wisconsin hunters a safe and successful hunting season.

Sources

Wis. Stat. § 895.52 (2013-14).

Associated Press, Sheriff: Hunter Dies in Wisconsin Accident, KARE 11 (Oct. 13, 2014 6:14 PM), http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/2014/10/13/sheriff-hunter-dies-in-wisconsin-accident/17217825/.

Wis. DNR, Hunters Stand Good Chance of Falling if Hunting from a Tree Stand, Wis. DNR (Nov. 5, 2013), http://dnr.wi.gov/news/weekly/article/?id=2746

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Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

Godfrey, Leibsle,
Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

354 Seymour Court
Elkhorn, WI 53121

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