A well-settled law in Wisconsin will become official if everything goes according to plan. The statute considers trespassers on property and the liability that an owner, lessee or tenant of that property has to that trespasser if he or she becomes injured. According to the law that the state legislature is looking to codify, that liability is practically nonexistent.
In regards to guests and employees, a legal owner or resident of the property will still maintain responsibility for any sort of dangerous property conditions that might cause someone to become injured. The only responsibility that landowners will have to those individuals who are trespassing on their property, if the bill passes, is that the owner cannot commit any willful or reckless conduct that can injure a trespasser. If an act such as this can be proven, the owner or renter may become liable and held so in a court of law.
Bi-partisan support in the state legislature has already pushed the bill quickly into the hands of the governor. Once signed, the law will become codified and courts will begin implementing it.
The bill defines a trespasser as someone who enters the property of another individual without their permission. Some opponents of the bill are worried how it will affect hunting and snowmobiling, two pastimes that are prevalent in the state of Wisconsin. If the governor signs the bill into law, it may force landowners to ensure that their property is defined so that trespassers who injure themselves and attempt to sue cannot say they were unaware of their trespassing, thus negating the credibility of the lawsuit.
The current law only eliminates liability if the trespasser is someone who is committing a crime, such as burglary or vandalism, after trespassing. Those who can prove that they were unaware of their trespassing can still hold owners of the property they were injured on liable.
Source: State Bar of Wisconsin, "Trespasser liability: Wisconsin Legislature votes to codify existing law," Joe Forward, Nov. 16, 2011