University of Vermont AAHS

Wisconsin Recreational Use Statute


WISCONSIN STATUTES
PROVISIONS COMMON TO ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS IN ALL COURTS
CHAPTER 895. MISCELLANEOUS GENERAL PROVISIONS


895.52 Recreational activities; limitation of property owners' liability

(1) Definitions. In this section:

(a) "Governmental body" means any of the following:
1. The federal government.
2. This state.
3. A county or municipal governing body, agency, board, commission, committee, council, department, district or any other public body corporate and politic created by constitution, statute, ordinance, rule or order.
4. A governmental or quasi-governmental corporation.
5. A formally constituted subunit or an agency of subd. 1., 2., 3. or 4.

(b) "Injury" means an injury to a person or to property.

(c) "Nonprofit organization" means an organization or association not organized or conducted for pecuniary profit.

(d) "Owner" means either of the following:
1. A person, including a governmental body or nonprofit organization, that owns, leases or occupies property.
2. A governmental body or nonprofit organization that has a recreational agreement with another owner.

(e) "Private property owner" means any owner other than a governmental body or nonprofit organization.

(f) "Property" means real property and buildings, structures and improvements thereon, and the waters of the state, as defined under s. 281.01(18).

(g) "Recreational activity" means any outdoor activity undertaken for the purpose of exercise, relaxation or pleasure, including practice or instruction in any such activity. "Recreational activity" includes hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, picnicking, exploring caves, nature study, bicycling, horseback riding, bird-watching, motorcycling, operating an all-terrain vehicle, ballooning, hang gliding, hiking, tobogganing, sledding, sleigh riding, snowmobiling, skiing, skating, water sports, sight-seeing, rock- climbing, cutting or removing wood, climbing observation towers, animal training, harvesting the products of nature, sport shooting and any other outdoor sport, game or educational activity. "Recreational activity" does not include any organized team sport activity sponsored by the owner of the property on which the activity takes place.

(h) "Recreational agreement" means a written authorization granted by an owner to a governmental body or nonprofit organization permitting public access to all or a specified part of the owner's property for any recreational activity.

(i) "Residential property" means a building or structure designed for and used as a private dwelling accommodation or private living quarters, and the land surrounding the building or structure within a 300-foot radius.

(2) No duty; immunity from liability. (a) Except as provided in subs. (3) to (6), no owner and no officer, employee or agent of an owner owes to any person who enters the owner's property to engage in a recreational activity:
1. A duty to keep the property safe for recreational activities.
2. A duty to inspect the property, except as provided under s. 23.115(2).
3. A duty to give warning of an unsafe condition, use or activity on the property.
(b) Except as provided in subs. (3) to (6), no owner and no officer, employee or agent of an owner is liable for the death of, any injury to, or any death or injury caused by, a person engaging in a recreational activity on the owner's property or for any death or injury resulting from an attack by a wild animal.

(3) Liability; state property. Subsection (2) does not limit the liability of an officer, employee or agent of this state or of any of its agencies for either of the following:
(a) A death or injury that occurs on property of which this state or any of its agencies is the owner at any event for which the owner charges an admission fee for spectators.
(b) A death or injury caused by a malicious act or by a malicious failure to warn against an unsafe condition of which an officer, employee or agent knew, which occurs on property designated by the department of natural resources under s. 23.115 or designated by another state agency for a recreational activity.

(4) Liability; property of governmental bodies other than this state. Subsection (2) does not limit the liability of a governmental body other than this state or any of its agencies or of an officer, employee or agent of such a governmental body for either of the following:
(a) A death or injury that occurs on property of which a governmental body is the owner at any event for which the owner charges an admission fee for spectators.
(b) A death or injury caused by a malicious act or by a malicious failure to warn against an unsafe condition of which an officer, employee or agent of a governmental body knew, which occurs on property designated by the governmental body for recreational activities.

(5) Liability; property of nonprofit organizations. Subsection (2) does not limit the liability of a nonprofit organization or any of its officers, employees or agents for a death or injury caused by a malicious act or a malicious failure to warn against an unsafe condition of which an officer, employee or agent of the nonprofit organization knew, which occurs on property of which the nonprofit organization is the owner.

(6) Liability; private property. Subsection (2) does not limit the liability of a private property owner or of an employee or agent of a private property owner whose property is used for a recreational activity if any of the following conditions exist:
(a) The private property owner collects money, goods or services in payment for the use of the owner's property for the recreational activity during which the death or injury occurs, and the aggregate value of all payments received by the owner for the use of the owner's property for recreational activities during the year in which the death or injury occurs exceeds $2,000. The following do not constitute payment to a private property owner for the use of his or her property for a recreational activity:
1. A gift of wild animals or any other product resulting from the recreational activity.
2. An indirect nonpecuniary benefit to the private property owner or to the property that results from the recreational activity.
3. A donation of money, goods or services made for the management and conservation of the resources on the property.
4. A payment of not more than $5 per person per day for permission to gather any product of nature on an owner's property.
5. A payment received from a governmental body.
6. A payment received from a nonprofit organization for a recreational agreement.
(b) The death or injury is caused by the malicious failure of the private property owner or an employee or agent of the private property owner to warn against an unsafe condition on the property, of which the private property owner knew.
(c) The death or injury is caused by a malicious act of the private property owner or of an employee or agent of a private property owner.
(d) The death or injury occurs on property owned by a private property owner to a social guest who has been expressly and individually invited by the private property owner for the specific occasion during which the death or injury occurs, if the death or injury occurs on any of the following:
1. Platted land.
2. Residential property.
3. Property within 300 feet of a building or structure on land that is classified as commercial or manufacturing under s. 70.32(2)(a)2. or 3.
(e) The death or injury is sustained by an employee of a private property owner acting within the scope of his or her duties.

(7) No duty or liability created. Except as expressly provided in this section, nothing in this section or s. 101.11 nor the common law attractive nuisance doctrine creates any duty of care or ground of liability toward any person who uses another's property for a recreational activity.


895.525. Participation in recreational activities

(1) Legislative purpose. The legislature intends by this section to establish the responsibilities of participants in recreational activities in order to decrease uncertainty regarding the legal responsibility for deaths or injuries that result from participation in recreational activities and thereby to help assure the continued availability in this state of enterprises that offer recreational activities to the public.

(2) Definition. In this section, "recreational activity" means any activity undertaken for the purpose of exercise, relaxation or pleasure, including practice or instruction in any such activity. "Recreational activity" includes hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, bowling, billiards, picnicking, exploring caves, nature study, dancing, bicycling, horseback riding, horseshoe-pitching, bird-watching, motorcycling, operating an all-terrain vehicle, ballooning, curling, throwing darts, hang gliding, hiking, tobogganing, sledding, sleigh riding, snowmobiling, skiing, skating, participation in water sports, weight and fitness training, sight-seeing, rock-climbing, cutting or removing wood, climbing observation towers, animal training, harvesting the products of nature, sport shooting and any other sport, game or educational activity.

(3) Appreciation of risk. A participant in a recreational activity engaged in on premises owned or leased by a person who offers facilities to the general public for participation in recreational activities accepts the risks inherent in the recreational activity of which the ordinary prudent person is or should be aware. In a negligence action for recovery of damages for death, personal injury or property damage, conduct by a participant who accepts the risks under this subsection is contributory negligence, to which the comparative negligence provisions of s. 895.045 shall apply.

(4) Responsibilities of participants. (a) A participant in a recreational activity engaged in on premises owned or leased by a person who offers facilities to the general public for participation in recreational activities is responsible to do all of the following:
1. Act within the limits of his or her ability.
2. Heed all warnings regarding participation in the recreational activity.
3. Maintain control of his or her person and the equipment, devices or animals the person is using while participating in the recreational activity.
4. Refrain from acting in any manner that may cause or contribute to the death or injury to himself or herself or to other persons while participating in the recreational activity.
(b) A violation of this subsection constitutes negligence. The comparative negligence provisions of s. 895.045 apply to negligence under this subsection.

(4m) Liability of contact sports participants. (a) A participant in a recreational activity that includes physical contact between persons in a sport involving amateur teams, including teams in recreational, municipal, high school and college leagues, may be liable for an injury inflicted on another participant during and as part of that sport in a tort action only if the participant who caused the injury acted recklessly or with intent to cause injury.
(b) Unless the professional league establishes a clear policy with a different standard, a participant in an athletic activity that includes physical contact between persons in a sport involving professional teams in a professional league may be liable for an injury inflicted on another participant during and as part of that sport in a tort action only if the participant who caused the injury acted recklessly or with intent to cause injury.

(5) Effect on related provision. Nothing in this section affects the limitation of property owners' liability under s. 895.52.


Amended in 1997.
Reviewed by AAHS in July 2001.


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