WOODALLSCM.com January 2019 - 29 Immunity Laws Aim to Help Protect Owners from Lawsuits, Highlight Inherent Risks of Camping brought a suit against us.” His insurer at the time, Evergreen Insur- ance, decided against settling the case and brought it in front of a jury. “They felt it was just wrong to pay the go-away money,” Brown noted. “She ended up winning the case and by the end of it you would have thought I had pushed her and made her fall. She was awarded $24,000 to cover her broken ankle.” That is why officials at ARVC have begun to push for more members to look at getting immunity laws passed in their states. These laws — such as one that the Wisconsin legislature passed in 2016 — are designed to offer another layer of protection to camp- ground owners in their fight against these types of lawsuits. “Alotofotherindustries,liketheskiindus- try, have these laws in place,” noted Jeff Sims,ARVC’sseniordirectorofstaterelations and program advocacy. “We’re not really breaking new ground, but we are looking for some industry-specific legislation. The reason being is because the ski industry has some inherent risks lan- guage that’s open for interpretation; how does a campground fall under that? In most cases, we do want to see industry-specific language so that it specifically states the RV park and campground sectors and removes having to interpret language that wasn’t created with these types of parks in mind.” Sims explained that ARVC is not advocat- ing giving campground owners blanket im- munity over anything that happens at their parks, like not keeping equipment in good shapeorcreatingotherhazardoussituations. He instead noted that ARVC wants to help createimmunitylawsthatwillprotectowners fromlawsuitsoccurringoverthingstheycan’t control, such as tree roots and the spread of poison ivy. Sims noted that there are quite a few ARVC members that deal with these types of lawsuits. “It almost seems that campers want to sue over every trip and fall,” he said. “As a park owner myself for more than 40 years there was always somebody coming up to me and telling me they were going to own my park and my No. 1 concern was what happened and how could I help them.” Brown noted that it is important for the industry because there is nothing owners can do in a lot of these situations. “Someofthethingsareinherenttocamp- ing and without them camping wouldn’t be what it is today,” he said. In Wisconsin, Lori Severson, the execu- tive director of the Wisconsin Association of For campers and campground and RV park owners alike, the outdoor hospitality industry is centered around finding ways to break away from the everyday routine. From hiking and swimming to biking and other outdoor activities, campers are looking for things to do while they camp, and many park owners are finding ways to attract campers by offering a wide variety of activi- ties. With everything going on at a camp- ground, however, accidents are bound to happen at some point. From a camper tripping over a tree root on a hiking trail to burns while preparing a campfire, there are inherent risks associated with camping. For some owners, accidents associated with the inherent risks of camping have had somebigimpactsontheirwalletsduetolaw- suits being filed by the injured parties. According to the Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), these lawsuits can range in the tens of thousands of dollars and generate negative publicity. Pete Brown, owner of Lone Oak Camp- sitesinEastCanaan,Conn.,andamemberof the ARVC board of di- rectors, knows all too well what can happen when a camper has a slip-and-fall accident. Hisparkwassuedbya woman who slipped and fell during an early morning hike along a trail at his facility. “It was a hot day and you know some- times rocks and the forest floor can get kind of slippery and wet when things conden- sate,”Brownexplained.“Sheslippedandfell and hurt her ankle quite badly and then Immunity laws could protect owners from certain accidents, such as a slip and fall while a camper hikes. Inherent risks of camping, like tree roots on atrail,canbecoveredunderimmunitylaws. Pete Brown Jeff Sims Immunity Laws – continued on page 32