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Mid-Appalachian Region of
the National Speleological Society


CAVE LAWS & ACTS

Pennsylvania Landowner Liability Act /
Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (RUA)
(1966/1992)

*   Pennsylvania amended this law in 1992 to include "cave exploration"
in the list of recreational purposes.

No. 586, HB 1005, signed into law Feb. 2, 1966

Entitled,
"Encouraging landowners to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting liability in connection therewith, and repealing certain acts, further providing for liability of landowners toward recreational users, persons or property for acts or acts of omission by recreational users."

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1. The purpose of this act is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward:

(1) recreational users entering thereon for such purposes; and

(2) persons or property, wherever located, based on:

    (i) acts or acts of omission by landowners; or

    (ii) acts or acts of omission by recreational users.

Section 2. As used in this act:

(1) "Land" means land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways and buildings, structures and machinery or equipment when attached to the realty.

(2) "Owner" means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee, occupant or person in control of the premises.

(3) "Recreational purpose" includes, but is not limited to, any of the following, or any combination thereof: hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing, water sports, cave exploration1, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites.

(4) "Charge" means the admission price or fee asked in return for invitation or permission to enter or go upon the land.

(5) "Recreational User" means any person who enters or uses land for recreational purpose.

Section 3. Except as specifically recognized or provided in section 6 of this act, an owner of land owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by recreational users, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity, on such premises to recreational users.

Section 4. Except as specifically recognized by or provided in section 6 of this act, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any recreational user to use such property does not thereby:

(1) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose.

(2) Confer upon such recreational user the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed.

(3) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to persons or property, wherever such persons or property are located, caused by an act or an act of omission of recreational user or an act of omission of a landowner.

(4) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to persons or property, wherever such persons or property are located, caused while hunting pursuant to 34 PAC.S. (Relating to Game)

Section 5. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the provisions of sections 3 and 4 of this act shall be deemed applicable to the duties and liability of an owner of land leased to the State or any subdivision thereof for recreational purposes.

Section 6. Nothing in this act limits in any way any liability which otherwise exists:

(1) For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity.

(2) For injury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges the recreational user who enter or go on the land, except that in the case of land leased to the State of a subdivision thereof, any consideration received by the owner for such lease shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of its section.

Section 7. Nothing in this act shall be construed to:

(1) Create a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to persons or property.

(2) Relieve any recreational user from any obligation which he may have in the absence of this act to exercise care in his use of such land and in his activities thereon, or from the legal consequences of failure to employ such care.

Section 8. The act of September 27, 1961 (P L. 1696), entitled "An act limiting the liability of landowners of agriculture lands or woodlands for personal injuries suffered by any person while hunting or fishing upon the landowner's property," is repealed.

All other acts or parts of acts are repealed in so far as inconsistent herewith.

Section 9. This act shall take effect immediately.

Approved - The 2nd day of February, A.D. 1966. William W. Scranton


1Addendum: The words "Cave Exploration" were added to this act by the act of 1992-10, signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey on March 26, 1992. Cave exploration became a covered activity on May 26, 1992.


2Addendum: House Bills 13 and 74 of the House of Representatives, were introduced and amended which whereby further limits liability for owners and private lands and waters that are open to public use. 2007 Amendments are listed above in "blue". Amendments were added to this act by the act of 2007-11 (also referred to as Act 11), signed into law by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell on June 30, 2007.




What does this all mean?
Credit given to Keith D. Wheeland, of the Nittany Grotto

  • A landowner who allows someone on their property (without charge) to engage in one or more of the listed recreational purposes, is not liable for injuries to the person or the person's property.


  • Of course, anyone can sue anyone for anything. However, in each case which has gone to court in which this act was used as defense, the landowner has won the case.


  • Note that landowners do not have to make the land "safe" for the activity, nor do they have to warn persons of any "danger" that may exist.


  • This does not relieve persons engaged in a covered activity from exercising care to themselves or to the landowner's property.


  • If a landowner charges a fee to use the land and an injury occurs, the landowner may be held liable.


  • If the landowner willfully or maliciously causes an injury, the landowner may be held liable.


  • This act does not give persons the right to trespass on private property.




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