Public vs. Private Land Hunting Accidents
Clarksburg provides ample opportunities for hunting enthusiasts, and also has laws that allow injured parties to hold landowners liable in some cases. But the laws may differ for private land hunting accidents and those on public land.
Liability for Private Land Hunting Accidents if Not Charged to Use the LandGenerally, if a landowner opens the land for public recreational access, including to hunt on the land, then the landowner is not liable for injuries that occur on the land, as long as the landowner does not charge for use of the land. This encourages private landowners to open up access to these areas to the general public, helping free up public hunting grounds. A person who enters private land for recreational use and is not charged a fee for doing so is essentially a trespasser as far as West Virginia liability law is concerned. While the individual may not be breaking any laws, per premises liability law, the owner of the land does not owe a duty of care to the individual, just as he generally does not owe a duty of care to trespassers. The landowner should post No Trespassing notices every 500 feet if he does not wish others to use the land for recreational use.
Liability for Private Land Hunting Accidents if Charged to Use the LandIf the landowner charges hunters for use of the privately-owned land, though, then the landowner may be liable for injuries that result out of the landowner's failure to maintain a reasonably safe premises. So if you were in a private land hunting accident and became injured because of a hazard on the land, whether you can file a claim is largely dependent on whether you paid a fee to use the land.
Proving Liability for a Private Land Hunting Accident if You Paid to Use the LandBut just because you became injured while hunting on private land after having paid to use the land does not mean you are automatically entitled to recover damages. You must prove the landowner was in some way negligent, and it was this negligence that led to your injuries. For example, failure to warn of a known hazard might result in the landowner being liable for a resulting injury, whereas it otherwise would not if the landowner did not charge a fee to use the land. You may present photographs of the hazard with an absence of warning signs to demonstrate negligence and liability. Eyewitness accounts of your accident may also be important to establish liability. You must also present evidence of your damages. This might include medical bills to indicate the treatment you received, as well as evidence of your wages to indicate wages you lost while recovering.
Liability for Public Land Hunting AccidentsIt may be difficult to hold the government responsible for hazards on public land as well. Government agencies generally enjoy exemption from liability in what's known as government immunity. Hunters may assume certain risks when entering undeveloped areas to hunt, and the government may not be liable for any injuries that result from hazards on the land.