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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    July 01, 2007

    Wisconsin Civil Liability Exemptions

    Barry W. Szymanski

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 80, No. 7, July 2007

    In addition to the Good Samaritan statute, the Wisconsin Legislature has carved out many other civil liability exemptions.

    Certain medical providers, including massage therapists and certified bodyworkers, who render voluntary health care to a participant in an athletic event or contest sponsored by a nonprofit corporation or a school are immune from civil liability for their acts or omissions if certain conditions exist.1

    A relatively new subsection of the Good Samaritan statute provides immunity from civil liability for the acts or omissions of certain persons in rendering, in good faith, emergency care by use of an automated external defibrillator to an individual who appears to be in cardiac arrest.2

    Other civil liability exemptions enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature relate to the following:

    • Administration of drugs and provision of emergency care to pupils, Wis. Stat. § 118.29.
    • Suicide intervention, Wis. Stat. § 118.295.
    • Hazardous materials, Wis. Stat. § 895.4802.
    • Information concerning paternity, Wis. Stat. § 895.4803.
    • Equine activities, Wis. Stat. § 895.481.
    • Ski patrol members, Wis. Stat. § 895.482.
    • Regional and local emergency response teams and their sponsoring agencies, Wis. Stat. § 895.483.
    • Agencies, foster parents, treatment foster parents, and family-operated group home parents, Wis. Stat. § 895.485.
    • Reports of insurance fraud, Wis. Stat. § 895.486.
    • Employment references, Wis. Stat. § 895.487.
    • Furnishing safety services relating to child safety restraint systems, Wis. Stat. § 895.497.
    • Weight gain and obesity claims, Wis. Stat. § 895.506.
    • Food donation, sale, or distribution, Wis. Stat. § 895.51.
    • Equipment or technology donation, Wis. Stat. § 895.515.
    • Solid waste donation or sale, Wis. Stat. § 895.517.
    • Recreational activities; limitation of property owners' liability, Wis. Stat. § 895.52.
    • Participation in recreational activities; restrictions on civil liability, assumption of risk, Wis. Stat. § 895.525.
    • Sport shooting range activities; limitations on liability and restrictions on operation, Wis. Stat. § 895.527.
    • Tests for intoxication, Wis. Stat. § 895.53 (includes both civil and criminal liability exemption).
    • Notification of release under mental health commitments, parole, and supervised release programs, Wis. Stat. § 895.54.
    • Oil discharge control, Wis. Stat. § 895.55.
    • Anhydrous ammonia, Wis. Stat. § 895.555.
    • Handling of petroleum-contaminated soil under contract with the Department of Transportation, Wis. Stat. § 895.56.
    • Unauthorized release of animals, Wis. Stat. § 895.57 (addresses both damages and immunity).
    • Use of special waste under public works contracts, Wis. Stat. § 895.58.
    • Disclosure of rule violations of an agency, board, or commission, Wis. Stat. § 895.59.
    • Furnishing alcohol beverages, Wis. Stat. §§ 125.035, .037 (includes both certain individuals and municipalities).
    • Retaining proofs of age, Wis. Stat. § 125.039.

    In addition, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has stated that Wis. Stat. section 940.34 is a "Good Samaritan" law that imposes criminal liability on "[a]ny person who knows that a crime is being committed and that a victim is exposed to bodily harm" but fails to summon help or provide assistance to the victim.3


    1Wis. Stat. § 895.48 (1m).

    2Wis. Stat. § 895.48 (4).

    3State v. Willquette, 129 Wis. 2d 239, 261, 385 N.W.2d 145 (1986).

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