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Private Roads, Use and Liability

Discussion in 'Accidents, Injuries, Negligence' started by Clairik, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. Clairik

    Clairik Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    In the following situation, is there anything we can do to prevent certain people from using a private road, and if not, how can we limit any liability we might face?

    We and one neighbor live on a private road. He does the physical maintenance and we contribute financially. Between our houses and the public road, the private way runs in or along the back segments of two other properties. One property is vacant, the other has a house on the side opposite from the private road with access to the public road. The owners of those properties do not pay for any road maintenance. That is fine with us, since until recently they never used the private road. Within the past several months, however, we've noticed that the owners of the occupied land have started four-wheeling around their property and occasionally divert from their perimeter trail onto the private road and head down to the public one. They do so at a high rate of speed which damages the gravel road and at least once after dark. We are concerned that if they get into an accident, we could be sued. We don't want them coming onto the private road. They don't need to use it, and we don't want it torn up for their recreation, but it does lie entirely on their property for a short stretch. Beyond that, the road is wholly or partially on the vacant land. If partially, we have ownership of the other portion. Is there any way we can legally block access to the road? What can we do to protect ourselves from a lawsuit?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    IF the road in question is PRIVATE, you can simply secure it with a locked gate, or an electronic controlled device.

    Another option would be to post NO TRESPASSING signs to restrict use to only those who have permission to use your road.

    It might be advisable to seek the advice of an ID licensed attorney, to ensure your road is what you believe it to be, and how you LEGALLY restrict usage in your state.

    If you receive any county or state maintenance on your road, including snow removal, that might mean your road is open to access by the public.

    Another option would be to contact your county or state road department for information and guidance on how you could proceed.
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  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    There's always that possibility because anybody can sue anybody for anything. However, on the remote chance of that happening, your homeowner's liability insurance would protect so don't lose any sleep over that issue.

    Then put up a barrier at the end of the road that you and your neighbor own. Inexpensive options could be sinking vertical railroad ties into concrete every couple of feet or placing large boulders across the road every couple of feet. Or use your imagination.

    There's nothing you can do about the part that you don't own.
     
  4. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    If the neighbors are using ATVs then it'll be impossible to block their access to the road.
     
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  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Dirt bikes, even some street bikes, too.
     
  6. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Judge, he did say "four wheelers" so I assumed he meant ATVs.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    True, I was just piling on. LOL

    By the way, what about wild dogs, bears, skunks, squirrels, hikers, birds, maybe a fox, what about anything coming down that "private" road?
     
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  8. Clairik

    Clairik Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to post answers. This is indeed a private road, and it may require a knowledgeable attorney to advise us whether these people are entitled to use the road since one portion of it crosses a small corner of their property and whether we are liable only for the road on our land or for the entire length since we help maintain it. Right now, signage may be our best option (speed limit, use at own risk/not responsible for accidents). As appealing as physical barriers are, I don't think they would be legal at the access point since it is on their property. A gate where the road meets up with the public thoroughfare would cause more headaches for us residents than inconvenience the joyriders, although it does have a cerain appeal.

    Thank you again.

    P.S. Have no issue with critters on the road--unless they are the ones doing the driving. Gotta watch those 'yotes!
     

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