House votes to protect landowners from lawsuits filed by trespassers

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 9th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa House has endorsed the idea of new protections for property owners when trespassers get injured. It means a property owner — or the person renting the property — is not liable for injuries trespassers may suffer if the property’s in good condition. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, supported the bill. “What we’re trying to do here makes sense,” she says. “…I think it clarifies some gray areas in the law. I think it can protect homeowners, which is what we want to do.” But critics, like Representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield, say the bill does not protect the accidental trespasser.

“That’s the mother that’s taking her child out on Halloween night. That’s a hunter that inadvertantly gets on the wrong land,” Swaim says. “…The person who gets on the wrong land has some fault, but we don’t bar that person from any recovery.” Recovery is another way of suing for money to cover injuries or “pain and suffering.” The bill passed on a 68 to 30 vote. Only three members of the Iowa House spoke during debate of the legislation — and all three are lawyers.

(O.Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)