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What is the legal liability of the owners of a private road re: accidents, etc.?

Discussion in 'Homeowners Associations & Boards' started by Delahaven, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. Delahaven

    Delahaven Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Minnesota
    There are 19 property owners who jointly own a private, dead-end road in the midst of Superior National Forest. Very remote. We have a road owners' association that assesses dues and maintains the road. We balance competing wishes from those who would like it to only be passable with a 4-wheel drive and those for whom new class-5 gravel every year would be welcome. We maintain it somewhere in the middle of those wishes.

    At this year's road association meeting (officers and board members are elected, quorum-based meeting held and documented annually), a member asked what our liability would be if someone were to get hurt on our one-lane road. I was tasked with finding out.

    Can you help? Thanks.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    No, but a lawyer licensed in your state certainly can discuss your liability with you, or your board.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The question is too broad. It would depend how the injury occurred.
    In most cases there is probably very little if any liability.
     
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  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Depends on all the details relating to how the person gets hurt and who the person is. The "help" I can provide is to suggest you make it a non-issue by obtaining a reasonably sized liability insurance policy.
     
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  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I can give you some basics.

    In general, for anybody to be liable for somebody else's injury or damage, there must be negligence. Negligence (at its simplest) is that a person knew or should have known that a hazard existed that could cause injury or damage and ignored it.

    Trust me, it can get more complicated than that but I won't go into it because I am about to give you the solution to the problem.

    Each of the 19 property owners has (or should have) a homeowners policy that covers his individual liability. That policy would cover any exposure to a lawsuit against him as an individual.

    Whether there is any exposure via the association depends on how the association was created. If it is a legal entity like a corporation or LLC or even an informal or formal partnership that has its own assets (bank account, equipment, etc), it should have its own liability policy, which should be cheap enough since the risk of injury or damage to others is rather low.
     
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  6. Delahaven

    Delahaven Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks very much! That was very clear and helpful.
     

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