Awaiting Governor’s Signature: Immunity for Private Campgrounds

Assembly Bill 174/Senate Bill 131, introduced by Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), as amended, would create immunity from civil liability for a private campground in certain circumstances. The legislation passed the Assembly on February 16, 2016, and the Senate on March 16. The enrolled legislation now awaits gubernatorial approval.

Under the legislation, as amended by substitute amendments, a private campground owner, operator or employee is immune from civil liability if a person is injured or killed, or property is damaged, as a result of an inherent risk of camping. “Inherent risk of camping” means a danger or condition that is an integral part of camping, including dangers posed by any of the following:

  • Features of the natural world, such as trees, tree stumps, roots, brush, rocks, mud, sand, and soil
  • Uneven or unpredictable terrain
  • Natural bodies of water
  • Another camper or visitor at the private campground acting in a negligent manner
  • A lack of lighting, including lighting at campsites
  • Campfires in a fire pit or enclosure provided by the campground
  • Weather
  • Insects, birds, and other wildlife
The legislation would not provide immunity if the person seeking immunity does any of the following:
  • Intentionally causes the injury, death, or property damage.
  • Acts with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the party or the property damaged. “Willful or wanton disregard” means conduct committed with an intentional or reckless disregard for the safety of others.
  • Fails to conspicuously post warning signs of a dangerous inconspicuous condition known to him or her on the property that he or she owns, leases, rents, or is otherwise in lawful control of or possession.