In Texas, the vast majority of land is privately held, and several years ago the Texas legislature recognized state law that covered a landowner’s liability for accidents and injuries that might take place on a piece of property was limiting the access that the state’s population would have for recreational use of private property. Shel Winkley has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
“Your responsibility varies with each of these classifications, the top being invitee, that’s somebody on your property with your permission, and they’re paying to be there. That’s the hunter, or fisherman. The next one is, somebody, a licensee, somebody on your property with your permission, a social guest, but they’re not paying to be there. That’s a licensee. And the last one is somebody who’s on there without your permission, that’s a trespasser.”
Judon Fambrough is an attorney with Texas A&M’s Real Estate Center.
“If they’re an invitee, you have a duty to warn or make safe all of the dangerous conditions you know about, or reasonable inspection would reveal. If it’s a licensee, you have a duty to warn or make safe all of the dangerous conditions you know about, and nothing else. And if you’re a trespasser, you have a duty to refrain from injuring them through gross negligence or intentional conduct.”
97% of land in Texas is privately owned and only 3% is publicly owned.
“So the Texas legislature said we need to open the gates. We need to allow people to access private property more readily in Texas, and they did that by passing chapter 75 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code which basically says if you have a licensee or an invitee on your property for recreational purposes, you owe them no greater duty than you do a trespasser.”
And Fambrough says there are also a couple of things you can do to protect yourself.
“And I’d always suggest you get a waiver of liability for negligence. If they’re injured for your negligence, they agree not to sue you, basically they hold you harmless, and an assumption of risk agreement says if I’m injured through your gross negligence, I will not sue you.”
I’m Shel Winkley, taking a look at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.