View Full Version : Look for more posted signs.
02-16-2007, 01:33 PM
The shooting of a women by a hunter during deer season was settled out of court recently. Here is another fine example of how lawyers control the law and how the courts are running the country not the legislature.
A hunter who was shooting at a deer with a high powered rifle and thought he had a safe shot, hit a women sitting in her driveway 1/2 mile away. She sustained servere head injuries and will have life long problems.
The trial was in two parts. One was to determine liability and the other was for the amount of money involved. The jury determined the hunter was 90% liable and the person who owned the orchard that gave permission for the hunter to be there was 10% liable. The case was settled out of court before the ruling on the amount of money in the settlement was decided by the jury.
The part that give lawyers/lawmakers a bad name is the way these type of cases are handled in Pa. Even though there is a decades old law that shields landowners from liability when they allow people to use their land for recreation, the lawyers can always find a loophole or make one up and have some idiot judge allow it. It was decided since the shot was from the landowners property and went onto another's property and that it was a commercial orchard that the liability law did not fully protect the landowner. Of course the law doesn't allow for these distinctions, but this is the practice of law not the logic of law. They probably could have made up any reason and have it remove the protection for the landowner. Maybe the sun came up in the east or the wind was blowing out of the west. The real kicker is that in Pa they would have had to only to prove a tenth of a percent liability to drag the landowner into losing everything he owned. If any of the persons found liable does not have the means to pay the settlement, then whoever has the means to pay is reponsible for the entire amount of the settlement and they have to sue the others found liable who have no money for the amount they are reponsible to pay (try and find a lawyer to take that case on a percentage basis). In other words the landowner is 10% liable and the hunter is 90% liable but the hunter has no money, the landowner is responsible for the entire amount not the 10% he was found liable and he has to sue the hunter without any money to get back the 90%. Cute little law that obviously the lawyers had put in place so they can more easily get their percentage off a settlement. No sense in winning a settlement you can't collect now is there.
02-16-2007, 01:46 PM
The real kicker is the judge told the hunter that he did not have to attend the portion of the trial concerning the amount of money and he did not. They didn't need him since he did not have any money. He did not have a lawyer at the first part of the trial because he could not afford one and nobody cared. The had the landowner to get money from, they didn't need the hunter who made a careless decision and should have been found 100% liable.
This is how the law really works. To the benefit of the lawyers. I had tried in another thread concerning prescribed burning to alert another forum member to this type of thing. I suggested he had the prescribed burning subcontrator contract directly with the landowner rather than make the small markup by hiring the sub himself and risk losing everything he owned. Whoever has the ability to pay will pay regardless of his actual liability.
It is unfortune that the accident happened and the woman was injured. I am sure they allowed the exception to the standing law so she could get some money to offset her tragic loss since everyone knew the hunter could not pay.
The problem now will be the posting of all private land. I am sure that a smart lawyer could even make the landowner responsible for a trespasser who inflicts harm on another person either on your property or someone off of your property while the trespasser is on your land.
02-16-2007, 01:55 PM
They are talking now about amending the existing liability law for recreational use of persons on anothers land, but even though it is pretty clear now it can/will be set aside again in the future even with amendments in just such a case as this one.
I have a dirt road that the game commission maintains that crosses through a portion of my property and I have seen "hunters" stand on that road on my property and shoot into the state game lands. Will I lose everything I own because they shoot another hunter? Should I close the road? Will I lose everything I own because one of my invited hunters shoots another one of my hunters and his widow wants money for compensation?
My guess is they settled the case for the limits of the the landowners insurance. They wanted the most money for the woman without bankrupting the landowner. Of course the lawyers representing the landowner probably were from his insurance company not his. This settling out of court negates the ability for the decision to be overturned in a higher court under the protection the existing law provides the landowner from such liability. The landowner probably didn't even have a say in the decision. Another point to learn about. The insurance company's lawyers are there for the insurance company not the insured. I have had settlements made because it was cheaper to settle than go to court even though we had no liability and then they raise our premiums because they had to pay money out.
02-16-2007, 02:09 PM
Maybe some trespassing laws should be changed to make the trespasser responsible for your exposure for the possibility of his actions. Paying for your liability insurance for a year would be a good start.
300 Win Mag
02-16-2007, 05:38 PM
Timberdoodle, as a fellow HVAC guy and Pa resident I know exactly where you are coming from. We have a lot of screwed up laws here because we are a commonwealth, not a state. We also have a lot of tougher hunting laws here compared to many other states. EX: no sunday hunting, no baiting, shooting hours end 1/2 hour Before sunset, muzzle loaders NO SCOPES ALOWED, lumenocks illegal, Drawlock device illegal, etc.Bad enough we have a million hunters in such a small state, now we have to worry about protecting our land. Sometimes it makes me wonder why I live here!
02-16-2007, 07:01 PM
We are having an issue right now with this sort of thing here in WI.
A landowner who is a qdma member and a member of our branch wants to hold a disabled hunt, he also wants to raffle off a 3 day hunt during the 9 day gun season. He wants to use the branches raffle licsence to do this. He wants to help the branch and give the branch a portion of the proceeds.
This guys land is private, it is not a hunt club or anything like that. Now, if the guy that wins this hunt goes out and accidently shoots somebody is the branch and the QDMA responsable or will the land owner be?, or like you said will they go after the person that has the money? He has insurance on his land, will that be enough? The local DNR warden said she will be there for both of these hunts, not that it has anything to do with the liability of this or does it?
We are in a pickle on what to do as the board of this branch. I really want to help him out and I want to do this for the branch, but not if it will come back to haunt the QDMA.
What do you guys think?
02-16-2007, 07:50 PM
How many consecutive posts on one thread to qualify as an official rant?
An extension agent from the county involved with this lawsuit is a member of my camp. He said there are a lot more posted signs up than in previous years, and a lot more landowners unwilling to let anyone hunt, even friends.
That loophole may be closed by the legislature someday, but still that landowner will be stuck paying the big price (including the lawyer fees).
02-16-2007, 08:18 PM
Now, if the guy that wins this hunt goes out and accidently shoots somebody is the branch and the QDMA responsable or will the land owner be?
If someone attending your Banquet falls and breaks their leg they can sue the Branch, the Branch officers(note: QDMA has insurance covering Branch officers), the QDMA and the owner of the banquet hall. Probably a much greater chance of getting sued by Banquet attendees getting food poisoning than by the winner of a hunt shooting someone. The Mid-Michigan Branch routinly has a couple of hunts donated by members. If we are going to be paranoid of lawsuits, we might as well all quit and stay home.
Concerning the incident in timberdoodle's posts. There is a difference between a shooting being an accident or being negligence. If the hunter's actions were considered to be negligent, rather than an accident, that would most likely leave him open for a lawsuit.
02-16-2007, 09:57 PM
mpompa...I wouldn't let the "What if?" scenarios spoil the pleasure of the outdoors. This life is too short, your window of opportunity too narrow, the probability of injury and death too small and life goes on. The only certainty is death and taxes (April 15th). If you stopped doing everything because it might hurt you financially, you wouldn't get out of bed. Chances are greater that one of you gets killed or injured in an auto accident or struck by lightning rather than someone getting shot at your function. Insurance is your silent partner with its hand in your pocket siphoning off proceeds. Insurance is gender neutral, unfeeling, insensitive, a deep pocket, and the bull's eye target to be attacked.
02-17-2007, 12:04 AM
Anderson, I guess you could call my posts a rant. It just gets my goat when the court system can circumvent the intent of a law and the attorneys have it set up so whoever has the most money has to foot the bill for others who actually are at fault. I don't think we could trust the courts even if they legisature tries to make the law more bomb proof. The problem is cases like this are decided by a jury who can decide anything they want without regard for common sense and with the insurance company running the show, there will an out of court settlement. The shame would have been if neither the landowner or the hunter had any money, it probably never would have gone to trial. If the lawyers can't make money then there is no reason to ignore existing laws to protect landowners.
Those that said there is no reason not to carry on as normal, I agree. We cannot give into the fear to be sued or we would not do anything. Maybe some more caution should be prudent, such as have participants sign waivers.
02-17-2007, 03:58 AM
have participants sign waivers
I'm not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, but it is my understanding that a waiver does not give you the right to be negligent. Many years ago I heard on a radio program that the waivers your kids sign when going on school field trips are virtually worthless. Because someone can not sign their rights away. There rights are that the school can not be negligent.
Example, you allow a hunter to hunt you property. He falls out of a tree stand. The question then becomes, did he fall accidentally, because of his carelessness? Or, did he fall because you were negligent when you hung that stand? If he can convince a jury that you were negligent in the way you hung that stand, you then become liable for his injuries.
02-17-2007, 05:20 AM
that one reason i will not hunt out of ground .about 15 yrs ago i was walking out of some land i had premision to hunt. when i heard a bullet coming thru the woods. the landowner had give premision to another hunter to hunt that i did not know about and he shoot at a running deer. i ducked behind a tree till i heard the bullet whistle by then went on out. boy was i mad when i found out. was a eye opener for me. i then set a few rules on my land. no shooting from the ground, all hunters go in and out together. nobody comes in late. all parties have 2way radios no where everybody will be hunting. and call and people when getting out of stand for any reason.
like said life is to short and life goes on we can't live in a shelter just be as safe as a hunter that we can be.
02-17-2007, 05:32 AM
i understand and it is in every state just not PA. every state is the same. and i sure could tell you some things that happened to me cause of loop holes in the court system in mississippi. and still till the day i get mad as __ when i think about it. but i want go into that. but things that happen to that land owner in Pa is felt everywhere and going to get worse.
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