1997 Regular Session
To: Wildlife and Fisheries
By: Senator(s) Posey, Hawks
Senate Bill 2947
AN ACT TO PROVIDE LIMITED IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY FOR WILDLIFE GUIDES AND OUTFITTERS ENGAGED IN WILDLIFE-ASSOCIATED ACTIVITIES; TO PROVIDE THAT THE LIMITED IMMUNITY DOES NOT APPLY TO CERTAIN CONDUCT OR CONDITIONS; TO REQUIRE THE POSTING OF LIMITED LIABILITY WARNINGS RELATING TO WILDLIFE-ASSOCIATED ACTIVITIES; TO AMEND SECTION 95-9-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The Legislature recognizes that clients of guides and outfitters of wildlife-associated activities may incur injuries as a result of the risks involved in such activities. The Legislature also finds that the state and its citizens derive numerous economic benefits from such activities. It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature to encourage guiding and outfitting of wildlife-associated activities by limiting the civil liability of those involved in such activities.
SECTION 2. As used in this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Engages in a wildlife-associated activity" means hunting, fishing or viewing wildlife.
(b) "Wildlife-associated activity" means hunting, fishing or wildlife-viewing trips that are provided by a licensed guide or outfitter.
(c) "Associated landowner" means an individual, group, club, partnership or corporation, whether or not the landowner is operating for profit or nonprofit, which sponsors, organizes or provides land or facilities for a wildlife-associated activity that is to be guided or outfitted for compensation.
(d) "Guide" means any individual licensed under the laws of the State of Mississippi and employed for compensation for the purpose of guiding, leading or assisting any other participant to and from a given place to engage in a wildlife-associated activity.
(e) "Outfitter" means any person licensed under the laws of the State of Mississippi and engaged for compensation in soliciting to provide facilities, guide services or related services for the purpose of hunting, fishing or viewing wildlife.
(f) "Person" means any other individual engaged or assisting a guide, outfitter or associated landowner.
(g) "Participant" means any individual, whether amateur or professional, who engages in a wildlife-associated activity, whether or not a fee is paid to participate in the wildlife-associated activity.
(h) "Inherent risks of wildlife-associated activities" means those dangers or conditions which are an integral part of wildlife-associated activities, including, but not limited to:
(i) Certain hazards such as surface and subsurface conditions.
(ii) Collisions with trees, limbs, underwater objects or other objects.
(iii) Water hazards.
(iv) The potential of a participant to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to injury to the participant or others, such as not acting within his or her ability.
SECTION 3. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), a guide, outfitter, associated landowner or person shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of wildlife-associated activities and, except as provided in subsection (2), a participant's representative shall not make any claim against, or recover from a guide, outfitter, associated landowner or person for injury, loss, damage or death of the participant resulting from any of the inherent risks of the wildlife-associated activities.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall prevent or limit the liability of a guide, outfitter, associated landowner or person who:
(a) Provided the equipment and knew or should have known that the equipment was faulty, and such equipment was faulty to the extent that it did cause the injury.
(b) Failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the wildlife-associated activity and to safely oversee the particular participant based on the participant's representations of his or her ability.
(c) Owns, leases, rents or otherwise is in lawful possession and control of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a dangerous latent condition which was known or should have been known to the guide or outfitter, and for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted.
(d) Commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant, and that act or omission caused the injury.
(e) Intentionally injures the participant.
(3) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall prevent or limit the liability of a guide, outfitter, associated landowner or person under liability provision as set forth in products liability laws.
SECTION 4. (1) Every guide, outfitter and associated landowner shall post and maintain signs which contain the warning notice specified in subsection (2). The signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location on or near areas where the guide, outfitter and associated landowner conducts wildlife-associated activities. The warning notice shall appear on the sign in black letters, with each letter to be a minimum of one (1) inch in height. Every written agreement entered into by a guide, outfitter or by a wildlife-associated activity sponsor for the providing of professional services, instruction or the rental of equipment, or a wildlife-associated activity participant, whether or not the agreement involves wildlife-associated activities on or off the location or site of the wildlife-associated activity sponsor's, outfitter's or the guide's professional business, shall contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in subsection (2).
(2) The signs and agreements described in subsection (1) of this section shall contain the following warning notice:
Under Mississippi law, a wildlife-associated activity sponsor, landowner, outfitter or guide is not labile for an injury to or the death of a participant in wildlife-associated activities resulting from the inherent risks of wildlife-associated activities, pursuant to this chapter.
(3) Failure to comply with the requirements concerning warning signs and notices provided in this section shall prevent a wildlife-associated activity sponsor, outfitter or guide from invoking the privileges of immunity provided by this chapter.
SECTION 5. Section 95-9-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
95-9-1. (1) For the purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Qualified volunteer" means any person who freely provides services, goods or the use of real or personal property or equipment, without any compensation or charge to any volunteer agency in connection with a volunteer activity. For purposes of this chapter, reimbursement of actual expenses, including travel expenses, necessarily incurred in the discharge of a member's duties, insurance coverage and workers' compensation coverage of volunteers, shall not be considered monetary compensation.
(b) "Volunteer agency" means any department, institution, community volunteer organization or any nonprofit corporation designated 501(c)(3) by the United States Internal Revenue Service, except an agency established primarily for the recreational benefit of its stockholders or members. Volunteer agency shall also include any volunteer firefighter association which is eligible to be designated as a nonprofit corporation under 501(c)(3) by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
(c) "Volunteer activity" means any activity within the scope of any project, program or other activity regularly sponsored by a volunteer agency with the intent to effect a charitable purpose, or other public benefit including, but not limited to, fire protection, rescue services, the enhancement of the cultural, civic, religious, educational, scientific or economic resources of the community, * * * equine activity as provided in Section 95-11-1 et seq. or wildlife-associated activity as provided in Senate Bill No. 2947, 1997 Regular Session.
(2) A qualified volunteer shall not be held vicariously liable for the negligence of another in connection with or as a consequence of his volunteer activities.
(3) A qualified volunteer who renders assistance to a participant in, or a recipient, consumer or user of the services or benefits of a volunteer activity shall not be liable for any civil damages for any personal injury or property damage caused to a person as a result of any acts or omissions committed in good faith except:
(a) Where the qualified volunteer engages in acts or omissions which are intentional, willful, wanton, reckless or grossly negligent; or
(b) Where the qualified volunteer negligently operates a motor vehicle, aircraft, boat or other powered mode of conveyance.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.