New state law will shield agritourism from lawsuits
By Scott Hall, KCAA Director & Local Farmer
The Washington state legislature has passed a bill, ESSB 5808 that will shield practitioners of agritourism from lawsuits. It is expected to become law this legislative session, following the signature of the Governor.
The law will identify “agritourism professionals” as any person in the business of providing one or more agritourism activities, whether or not for compensation.
The new law will limit the liability of agrotourism professionals for injury, loss, damage or death of agritourism participants resulting exclusively from any of the inherent risks of agritoursm activities. The new law will bar lawsuits and the recovery of damages where the agritouism professional pleads the affirmative defense of assumption of the risk of agritourism activity by the participant.
Agritourism professionals must take several measures to limit their liability. Among them are avoiding acts that are grossly negligent, makes existing dangerous conditions known to participants, avoids allowing minors to engage in activities that are not reasonably age appropriate, avoids allowing participants to engage in agritourism activities while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and must place warning signs with specific warning language at the locations identified in the law.
The new law provides the wording that must be contained on the warning notice signs, the size and coloring of the lettering, and the locations where the signs must be posted.
Failure to comply with the requirements concerning warning signs and notices will prohibit an agritourism professional from invoking the privilege of immunity under this law, and failure to post signs and notices may be introduced as evidence in any claim for damages.