Landowner Liability During Hunting Season: Know Your Responsibilities

If you are a landowner who owns acres of prime hunting land, you've probably considered leasing out your property to hunters. Maybe you are currently allowing a few hunters onto your land, and are looking to earn some additional income off your land.

While leasing out hunting land can be a great way to earn extra income, it’s a good idea to do your research before giving hunters unrestricted hunting access to your property. Once you start earning an income off your property, your legal responsibilities become much greater. The duty of care that landowners are required to provide guests with is much higher if there is a financial exchange involved.

The best way to protect yourself from liability is to take out a landowner’s liability policy on your property. Landowner liability insurance is specific liability insurance that is designed to protect landowners from acts for which they could be held legally responsible.

A landowners’ duty of care can be divided up into three basic categories: licensees (nonpaying hunters), invitees (paying hunters), trespassers, and children. A landowner’s insurance policy is designed to provide you with liability coverage, for incidents that you could be held liability for involving any of these categories of people.

Invitees (Paying Hunters)
Invitees are paying hunters who have permission to hunt on your property. A landowners’ duty of care is highest for paying guests, meaning that a landowner’s liability policy is especially important if you are leasing your land to hunters. Landowners are required to keep the property and premises safe for invitees. A general safety inspection of your property may be required before you begin leasing your land, and any potential hazards will need to be removed, fenced off, or clearly marked.

Licensees (Nonpaying Hunters)
Nonpaying hunters who have permission to hunt on your property are referred to as licensees. While licensees are nonpaying guests, the landowner is still required to make them aware of any dangers on the property. A landowner’s liability policy generally extends to cover nonpaying guests as well.

Trespassers
Texas landowners have the least amount of responsibility towards trespassers. However, landowners must refrain from intentionally injuring a trespasser, except in defense of himself or his property.

Children
Texas “Attractive Nuisance Laws” requires landowners to protect children who are trespassing on their land. These laws state that if a landowner is maintaining a dangerous condition at a place where children are known to trespass, the landowner could be held liable for any injuries that a child sustains.

If you are considering leasing out your property to hunters, contact Texas Outdoor Insurance today. At Texas Outdoor Insurance, we would be happy to answer any questions you may have about your liability responsibilities as a landowner.