Model Statute Language

This is the statutory language recommended by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to best protect landowners’ interests and shield them from liability for injuries sustained by recreational land users. The provisions of this model statute were adapted from portions of existing statutes that have proven most favorable to landowners. States are advised to incorporate the language of this model into their recreational trespass law as it not only releases landowners from liability, but it also holds recreational land users liable for damages caused to private property and for legal fees landowners may incur as a result of lawsuits in which they are freed from liability. Passage of this model statute among the states would likely increase landowner grants of free public access to private property for recreational activities, such as hunting and fishing, by mitigating their fears of costly lawsuits.

View legal disclaimer.

Sec. 1 – Purpose

(1) The purpose of this act is to encourage persons to make available to the public land, water areas and park areas for outdoor recreational purposes by limiting their liability to persons going thereon and to third persons who may be damaged by the acts or omissions of persons going thereon.

Sec. 2 – Definitions

As used in this subchapter:
(1) "Charge" means an admission fee for permission to go upon or use the land, but does not include:
(A) The sharing of game, fish, or other products of recreational use; or
(B) Contributions in kind, services, or cash paid to reduce or offset costs and eliminate losses from recreational use;
(2) "Land" means land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways and buildings, structures, and machinery or equipment when attached to the realty;
(3) "Owner" means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee, holder of a conservation easement, occupant, or person in control of the premises;
(4) "Public" and "person" includes individuals, the Young Men's Christian Association, Young Women's Christian Association, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, churches, religious organizations, fraternal organizations, and other similar organizations; and
(5) "Recreational purpose" includes, but is not limited to, any of the following, or any combination thereof:
(A) Hunting;
(B) Fishing;
(C) Swimming;
(D) Boating;
(E) Camping;
(F) Picnicking;
(G) Hiking;
(H) Pleasure driving;
(I) Nature study;
(J) Water skiing;
(K) Winter sports;
(L) Spelunking;
(M) Viewing or enjoying historical, archeological, scenic, or scientific sites; and
(N) Any other activity undertaken for exercise, education, relaxation, or pleasure on land owned by another.

Sec. 3 – Construction of Subchapter

Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to:

(1) Create a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to persons or property; or
(2) Relieve any person using the land of another for recreational purposes from any obligation which he or she may have in the absence of this subchapter to exercise care in his or her use of the land and in his or her activities thereon or relieve any person from the legal consequences of failure to employ such care.

Sec. 4 – Duty of care

Except when an owner charges the public, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity on the premises to persons entering for recreational purposes.

Sec. 5 – Limitation on owner’s liability

Except when an owner charges the public, an owner of land who, either directly or indirectly, invites or permits without charge any person to use his or her property for recreational purposes does not thereby:

(1) Extend any assurance that the lands or premises are safe for any purpose;
(2) Confer upon the person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed;
(3) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act or omission of such persons; or
(4) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for injury to the person or property caused by any natural or artificial condition, structure, or personal property on the land.

Sec. 6 – Owner’s liability

Nothing in this subchapter limits in any way liability which otherwise exists:

(1) For malicious, but not mere negligent, failure to guard or warn against an ultra-hazardous condition, structure, personal property, use, or activity actually known to the owner to be dangerous; and
(2) For injury suffered in any case in which the owner of land charges the persons or public who enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereof, except that, in the case of land leased to the state, a subdivision thereof, or to a third person, any consideration received by the owner for the lease shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section.

Sec. 7 – User Liable for Damages.

Any person using the land of another for recreational purposes, with or without permission, shall be liable for any damage to property, livestock or crops which he may cause while on said property.

(a) No action for the recovery of real property, including establishment of prescriptive easement, right-of-way, or adverse possession, may be brought by any person whose claim is based on use solely for recreational purposes.

Sec. 8 – Costs and fees.

The court shall award any direct legal costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees, to an owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant who is found not to be liable for injury to a person or property pursuant to this section.