New Bill Would Limit Liability of Agritourism Professionals

Petting farm goats

Recently, the Oklahoma Senate Judiciary Committee approved Oklahoma Senate Bill 931, which would limit premises liability for agritourism professionals within Oklahoma. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ron Justice and Rep. Scott Biggs, both of whom are Oklahoma agritourism professionals.

Under the bill, agritourism professionals such as Justice and Biggs could not be held liable if and when participants in their services suffer from injury or death based on the inherent risks of such activities. In order to secure this protection, agritourism professionals will have to prominently post warnings on their premises.

According to Justice, “Oklahoma farmers and ranchers offer many agritourism activities like petting farms, horse riding, corn mazes and hay rides that families enjoy. Unfortunately, there are some inherent risks with such activities but being that people willingly participate in them knowing the risks, they shouldn’t be allowed to sue the owner if something happens.”

Agritourism activities are those that occur on a farm or ranch, and allow the public to view or participate in agricultural activities such as farming and ranching. Under the bill, if a facility owner is sued based on an agritourism injury or death, assumption of risk will be available as an affirmative defense to the professional.

This sounds like a good idea at first, but the reality is that this already happens for inherent risks (and thus preventing any recovery to sue). There’s an “assumption of risk” for just about any activity. Correctly, consumers can sue for their injuries that take place outside the scope of the general risks.