Dora Ann Hatch | 3/18/2015 11:37:06 PM
Many agritourism professionals daily make a decision not to invite guests onto their properties for fear of accidents that could result in lawsuits. That is completely understandable since Louisiana law makes an individual responsible for injuries that occur as a result of that individual’s neglect, lack of skill, or total disregard for another individual’s safety. Louisiana law makes an individual responsible for any defect or condition on his or her property that causes an injury if the defect was known and the injury could have been avoided by the exercise of responsible care.
Because of this concern to the vulnerability to lawsuits to agritourism professionals and the struggle with obtaining liability insurance, the Louisiana legislature passed House Bill 633 by Representative Anders as Act 591 of 2008; thereby enacting the Agritourism Limited Liability Law (R.S. 9:2795.4).
So, what are the benefits of this law? The intent of the law is to limit the liability of an agritourism professional for injuries that occur through no fault of the agritourism professional. To determine if you are eligible, read the law. The law includes definitions of terms like “agritourism professional” and an explanation of activities considered agritourism. The Commissioner of Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) determines what types of activities are covered as “agritourism activities.” The original law did not list beekeeping, however beekeepers petitioned the commissioner in 2014 to include them as an agritourism activity and their request was granted.
To have coverage under the law, an agritourism professional engaging in at least one or more agritourism activities as explained in the law, must submit a “plan of operation” for each agritourism activity to the director of the extension service of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and the director must approve the plan. Those plans of operation are currently reviewed by the LSU AgCenter’s Agritourism Coordinator.
Once the submitted plan of operation is reviewed, the plan of operation is forwarded to LDAF who sends a letter of notification to the agritourism professional. Coverage under the law will exit as long as: (1) the law is in effect, (2) the particular activity or type of activity is included in the regulations as an “agritourism activity,”and (3) the agritourism professional is conducting business in accordance with the plan.
To invoke the limitation of liability provided by this law, an agritourism professional must post and maintain a sign or signs that contain a warning notice at the entrance and the site of each agritourism activity. The sign reads, “Under Louisiana law, R.S. 9:2795.5, there is no liability for an injury to or death of a participant in an agritourism activity conducted at this agritourism location if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of the agritourism activity. Inherent risks of agritourism activities include, among others, risks of injury inherent to land, equipment, and animals, as well as the potential for you to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to your injury or death. You are assuming the risk of participating in this agritourism activity.” The law also provides detailed information on the signage design.
A copy of the law along with other helpful information can be found at www.lsuagcenter.com/agritourism Copies of the plan of operation and steps to follow are also on the same website.