Am I responsible?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by sisterpine, Sep 19, 2004.

  1. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from southwest Montana! My property is at the gate to a section of private land. The primary legal access for others who live beyond me travels through my land and then onto the next parcel. I am wondering two things...who is supposed to maintain the access road through my property that others use? (I currently maintain this part of the road but notice that others do not maintain the road as it winds through their property) And secondly, one landowner has an evil kid who spent all weekend racing a racing and very loud dirt bike back and forth through my land (on the road) and down a dangerous and fragile hill full of ruts and grooves from wash out. If this kid crashes his motor bike due to the ruts, ravines in the road and gets hurt on my property am I responsible? I know this is a tough question but can't even figure out who to ask! Thanks in advance, kathleen
     
  2. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    I would get in touch with a lawyer asap. You need to know for sure if I would be responsible.
     

  3. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    iff it is just a rite of way im shure you are a lot of rite of ways belong to the county and you own both sides of it in that case the county is responsible
     
  4. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ........................Hi Kathleen , I believe I would contact the kid(s) parents and let them know that I didn't appreciate their offspring trespassing on "Your" land. The right of way is for "ingress\egress"....NOT the Type of activity that the kid is involved in . If , they are responsible adults thet will put a stop to this activity by their Lil' darling....fordy..... :eek: :)
     
  5. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    Also get liability insurance.
     
  6. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    I went through this a couple of years ago. Check you deed, my neighbors have rights to ingress and egress only, they have no recreational rights to my road and property.

    Our neighborhood used many methods to stop the kids on their dirtbikes racing 50 mph up and down our road for 8 hours a day. We spent several hundred dollars on lawyers finding out what we can and cannot do. Right now, we have legal roadsigns that say Private Property No unlicensed, uninsured motorized vehicles or drivers. This gives us some legal protection from the idiots if they get injured on our properties. We call the cops on any tresspassers. It took some doing to get the sherriff to cooperate and respond to our complaints. When it first became a problem, the cops were saying "it's a neighborhhod problem, solve it yourselves."

    I think what really solved the problem was one neighbor informing the offending neighbors that while we must provide ingress and egress, we did not have to let them have free access to our 30' wide concrete roads, we could fence it off and instead provide a mud track with locked gates at every property boundary and they would need to call first or knock on our doors to have the gates opened.
     
  7. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Thanks for all the great info! I did speak to the kid alone and to his father a few minutes later yesterday. The response from the dad was "the bike is a racing bike, yes it is loud, yes it does have muffler and spark arrester, and everyone uses these roads to ride on" Needless to say he is not going to be much help. He says he wants to talk to my DH as he says his kids told him myDH pointed a gun at them a couple of weeks ago when they were going down mountain to another property to shoot guns. I informed him that I really dont know if any guns were pointed but that my husband always has a gun with him up here and that his kids had been shooting shotguns on my property within sight of my house when my husband chased them down and that i have the empty shells with prints to prove it. His response to that was that the kids did not tell him they were shooting on our property and that NO ONE POINTS A GUN AT HIS KIDS even if they have loaded guns on them at the time! Am thinking to find out exactly what my rights are and what uses the neighbors are allowed to use the access road for and then send registered letter informing them to cut the crap and behave!

    Also I do have homeowners/ farmowners/liablitiy insurance too.
     
  8. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    Spend a hundred bucks on roofing nails and scatter them all over the road as soon as it is past your driveway.

    Pete
     
  9. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    he he he , you think like my husband does!
     
  10. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

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    Just to put a little dirt rash on the little snot.Find a nice long dead straight tree standing or fallen already.About 2inches or so in diameter and lay it at an angle along the road.Like it fell there.The kid most likely will not stop to pick it up so in time he will fall when his tire slides down it instead of rideing over it.Be fun just to sit and watch want it? :D It needs to be in a spot where his speed isnt to fast, or he will ride over it every time.

    Been there fell like that before! As soon as the bark is gone it is slick as all get out! Especially when its wet!

    Humm buy an old truck really cheap and pull out in front of him as he comes barreling down the road.Oh wait a min didnt we start out trying to find a way not to be sued? Sorry :D
     
  11. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    I know it is aggravating to deal with inconsiderate people on your land, but deliberate traps are a sure way to get arrested and sued.
    Our county has taken aggressive steps to curb these problems, including taking kids' bikes away, but it still involves a lot of pain in the neck.
    "Good fences make good neighbors" is an old but true agage.
    I know it is expensive and a pain in the neck to have to fence your boundaries, but is important.
    We hope to have fence posts driven this winter on all our boundaries which are not wooded.
    Last year we posted signs and painted blue blazes in the woods (blue blazes have the same legal standing as a "No trespassing" sign in Maryland.
    We bought a 4-wheeler ourselves just to be able to police our own boundaries.
    Good luck. We have families like that, too.
     
  12. VAkat

    VAkat Member

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    Had the same problem but with our pond. Short of draining it or adding snapping turtles, we finally ended up spending $300 for a lawyer to send a strongly worded letter to the parents & obtaining 1M in Umbrella insurance just in case. It stopped them for a while but they would just wait until we left. I guess they thought we were stupid & wouldn't see that the ground was all wet with footprints. Had the sheriff come by to talk to them and of course they denied it....but they never did come back after that!
    Good Luck! People with that kind of attitude are usually the first ones to bring lawsuits! I'd also make sure I had the little bugger on tape!!!!
    KAT
     
  13. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I agree.. video tape the little angel if you can, and fence if you are able. With something nicely thick and inconvenient.
     
  14. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a good time to contact a lawyer and find out what legal recourse you might have. But before you do that, read everything you have concerning the purchase of your land -- it should state there the conditions for the roadway/excess to lands beyond your property if that is the only access to said lands. Besides - that is exactly what the lawyer is going to need to look at to be able to help you.

    If you have nothing in writing --(hmmm shame on you?)...put into writing what you were told about the roadway when you purchased the property. Don't know if this will help you or not legally - but if you end up having to hire and attorney - your head is probably clearer on details of your purchase now then it will be later.

    If you do not already have a recorded (in your county court house) legal document concerning maintence and liablity concerning the access to your own and the land beyond your own on what sounds like a privately own roadway -- you need to have one drawn up and signed by all parties involved - by an attorney. This will not only protect you but also all others who use said roadway. If the people who use the road beyond your property where there first and you are curious you might want to go to the court house and read the recorded records on their land purchases. A lawyer will have to tell you if you have any recourse concerning those records.

    And thanks for having a level head and not doing things to "get even" with your neighbors things like that only make matters worse.

    DISCLAIMER: I am not now nor have I ever been a lawyer and I'm a damn fool for giving legal advise and your a damn fool if you take my advise.

    Marlene
     
  15. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Okay you guys, what a riot! Needed a good laugh too! Esp since it is still snowing here, up to 5 inches this morning! But we will get an Indian summer...I have been promised by a neighbor so it must be true lol.

    Any way I did sort of contact a lawyer familiar with montana land law who gives the following advice and information. If it does not state in the deed anything about a road maint. agreement I should contact a lawyer , have an agreement written up and get all owners to sign it (like that will happen). Also if the kid messing around on my property is injured then I AM partially responsible! And no he does not have right to access to play around or go back and forth. Only for ingress and egress to his fathers land. Kid is only like 14 years so I am sure he is not a property owner!

    Here is the letter I am thinking of sending out, would welcome all input prior to mailing or contacting a local lawyer!

    Dear Section 19 Property Owner

    I had a discussion last weekend with Pat Campbell that got me to thinking about certain liability issues relating to roads traveling through our property. With regard to these issues I have contacted an Attorney and have been advised that the following applies to ingress/egress roads in Montana, Deer Lodge County.

    1) We were both correct in assuming that we all have the legal right to use the roads for ingress and egress from our individual properties. However I have also learned that this does not include any rights by any of us to use these same roads for any other purposes. These “other” purposes including the riding any vehicle of any kind back and forth for purposes of entertainment, among other things. While we have the right to use to road to visit neighbors and travel to and from our own properties that is the extent of the right.

    2) The attorney also advised me that if anyone who is using the roads for purposes other than ingress/egress is injured while driving/riding on our property the land owner , (us) ,whose road is being passed through at the time of the accident/injury may be partially liable, along with the person doing the riding or driving. The same holds true should someone passing through our property injure our property in any way, then the party doing the injuring is held responsible for damages done to the road or personal property or animals etc.

    3) Also that the maintenance of the roads permitting ingress and egress are to be maintained by the beneficiary of the road, though the property owner may, of course, also provide maintenance of the road.

    All of this basically means that you and I and everyone else have the legal right to prohibit others from using the roads for reasons other than ingress/egress. Such as hunting, playing, etc.

    Our main concern is the safety of persons using the roads through our property as well as damage to their vehicles and my animals. To this extent I am asking that minors not drive on the roads going through our property except to enter your property upon their arrival and exit. We have no issue with anyone riding through on their bikes, 4 wheelers, snowmobiles to go for a ride as long as they are accompanied by at least one adult property owner. That way if there is an incident of any kind I can be assured that a responsible adult is present to handle the situation in a reasonable and safe manner.

    If there are trees along my road that contact your motor vehicles in the normal course of travel please feel free to trim back the branches and leave the debris along side the road. I will clean it up myself. I do not want to have anyone’s vehicles damaged in this manner.

    We will, of course do the same on areas of the road that we use that pass through your property. Please let me know if you want the debris placed anywhere else nearby.

    My husband and I intend to remain good considerate neighbors to all persons living and using this mountain and rather than have misunderstandings keep cropping up we thought it best to seek legal advice and to advise all others of our concerns and wishes.

    Sincerely, your mountain neighbors~
     
  16. dla

    dla Well-Known Member

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    "2) The attorney also advised me that if anyone who is using the roads for purposes other than ingress/egress is injured while driving/riding on our property the land owner , (us) ,whose road is being passed through at the time of the accident/injury may be partially liable, along with the person doing the riding or driving. The same holds true should someone passing through our property injure our property in any way, then the party doing the injuring is held responsible for damages done to the road or personal property or animals etc"

    Oh my, I would never give anyone anything in writing to the effect that I was liable for something I didn't prefer to be liable for!
    Sounds like giving ammo to your enemies!
    I vote for the lawyer!
    Or a less legal-sounding letter, which emphasizes that you are within your rights to ban the use of the road for recreational purposes,
    or that for safety reasons you must insist that no unlicensed drivers be on the road at any time...
    you get my drift - never admit vulnerability in a written documant.

    I definitely vote for the lawyer if some good old fashioned over-the-fence-talk to all the neighbors definitely won't work!
    Deb
     
  17. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I think you need a new lawyer!

    The first question is what the easement says in the titlework. If there is no easement recorded than I assume it falls back to statutory and case law.

    Here's what I would do:

    1) I would not maintain that easement. If you maintain it for others then you are taking on liability.

    2) I would fence it and put gates at either end of the easement so that people using the easement can only travel on the easement and not the rest of your property.

    3) I would send a notice to any of the landowners that have a right to use the easement and tell them that you do not maintain the easement and expect them to keep the gates closed to prevent others from using it. I would also state that anyone other than the landowners (guests, contractors, whatever) need to carry written permission when they are crossing the easement or you reserve the right to turn them away as trespassers. I would also indicate that the easement does not give them the right to damage the land they cross, use it for any purpose besides accessing their property and that you expect them to excercise due care and maintain the easement appropriately. Finally, I would remind them that they cross the easement at their own risk and responsibility.

    As usual, just my 2 cents. A lawyer should be rducing your liability not increasing it

    edited this post to add: You might also suggest a maximum speed limit with regard to safety and minimizing dust/damage.

    Mike
     
  18. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    I re-read my letter and you are absolutely correct! I sure dont want to advise them of my liability! I will consult a local attorney RE type and make a new letter. Thanks for stopping me from making a horrid error! kathleen
     
  19. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mike in Ohio has given you some excellent advice and all I can add to it it to follow through with it.
     
  20. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    I would just like to point out that, at this point, if guns have been drawn/used/discussed, it might well be time to call in the law?

    I'm ducking, really.... but I really think that if this guys kids have accused your DH of drawing his gun on them, you really don't want to be dealing with these people without witnesses???

    Tracy