Deer Hunters Beware: ATVs, Trespassing, Misfire Accidents, and Tree Stand
Falls Can Cause Serious Injury
November 18th thru December 3rd marks Indiana’s peak firearm deer hunting season, meaning gun-rifle
season is fast approaching and hunters of all types will soon be looking
for the best location to fire their first shots. Crown Hill Cemetery and
Funeral Home in Indianapolis, well known to many Hoosiers as the burial
place for President Benjamin Harrison, and Vice Presidents Thomas Marshall,
Charles Fairbanks and Thomas Hendricks, recently made national news for
its campaign aimed at keeping hunters off the 555-acre grounds this season.
Although cemetery officials place “no hunting” signs throughout
the area to warn off potential hunters, Crown Hill officials say they
do have issues each year with hunters shooting at deer or building faulty
deer stands on the grounds. Officials say that when hunters trespass on
the property, liability and safety issues and incidents quickly arise,
leading many into the path of a serious accident or legal dispute.
As the busiest hunting season approaches and Hoosiers are getting their
camouflage and blaze orange out, the team at Wagner Reese has put together
a helpful list that includes several deer hunting hazards that may require
an experienced attorney to sort through.
Although it is less than common for a trespasser to successfully sue a
property owner for an injury, it is not unheard of – especially
if the landowner has acted violently or aggressively toward the hunter
and caused injury. If the landowner is obviously negligent about a serious
property hazard and there have not been any warnings, private property
fencing, or precaution taken, the landowner may be found at fault. Under
Indiana law, it is illegal to hunt, trap, chase or retrieve game on private
land without the consent of the tenant or a signed
private landowner permission form.
Tree Stand Injuries and Falls
Studies show that 1/3 of all hunters will experience a tree stand fall
during their hunting career. For example, of the 182 hunting accident
reports authored by Indiana’s DNR Division of Law Enforcement over
the past five years, 109 involved falls from tree stands. Tree stand falls
are some of the most common serious deer hunting issues and can result
in life altering neck, back, and head injuries. For the sake of you and
your family, use a fall arrest device, harness, or any other products
to minimize your chances of a tree stand accident.
Hunter safety courses and the wearing of blaze orange have certainly helped
decrease the amount of deaths unintentionally caused by hunters each year
but most hunting weapons like firearms and bows are still incredibly dangerous
if improperly handled. The simple rush of a hunt can often throw even
the most experienced sportsman into a whirlwind of confused excitement.
Pulling the trigger at the first sight of movement happens and causes
many serious accidents with roughly ten percent of all accidental shootings
ending in death. Stay aware of these outlined cautions on how misfires
and accidental shootings can occur to Indiana hunters.
- Avoid wearing colors and patterns that blend into the outdoor surroundings.
Bright orange, red or green clothing will be best seen. That includes
vests, backpacks, and hats.
- Improper loading, unloading, and handling of firearms make up the majority
of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
- It is illegal to hunt, shoot at or kill any animal or to shoot at any object
from within, into, upon or across any public road and to shoot across
a body of water, except in the lawful pursuit of wildlife.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and when you are
ready to shoot, clearly identify your target and what is beyond. Hunting
groups need to use good communication practices regarding their locations
to avoid the risk of being involved in an accidental shooting.
- Only point at what you plan to shoot. Ricocheting bullets claim their fair
share of human causalities as well.
- Treat every gun as if it’s loaded, even when you’re sure it’s
not. It’s important to remember, a gun’s safety is a mechanical
device, and can fail.
All Terrain and Off-Road Vehicles
Many hunters will use an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or off-road vehicle
(ORV) to travel to their hunting grounds. Despite the lack of consistent
regulation across the United States, there are basic recommendations echoed
by nearly every major ATV/ORV safety organization including these:
- Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants,
over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
- Never ride on paved roads. The exception is to cross where permitted by
law and in a safe manner.
- Never operate or ride an ATV/ORV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Pay strict attention to rider maximums. Never allow additional riders beyond
what is intended for the ATV/ORV.
- Only ride an ATV/ORV that is size-appropriate for the age of the driver.
- Ride at a safe speed and only on designated trails.
- Take a hands-on ATV/ORV safety course.
A new state law requires children under age 18 to wear an approved helmet
when riding any ATV/ORV on public or private property in Indiana, including
Interlake and Redbird state recreation areas.
Of course, we want you to experience the excitement of the season, but
to stay focused on the safety of the hunt as well. So always let someone
else know of your hunting plans and include your location and where you
will be parking your vehicle. Carry a charged cell phone with you in case
of an emergency and let a friend or relative know when you expect to return.
For a full list of hunting safety tips, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture offers detailed advice for venturing out into the woods.
Representing Indiana Hunters
If you have been injured in a hunting accident, whether from the recklessness
of another hunter or a negligent landowner, or from a product malfunction, the
personal injury and
product liability attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you in recovering the damages you are owed.
Contact us now at (888) 204-8440 to schedule an appointment in our Indianapolis
or Carmel offices, or use our convenient, confidential