Who is Liable for an Accident on an Easement?

Sustaining an injury on another person’s property can be confusing, particularly when you work to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. The situation becomes even more complex if the accident takes place on an easement in Oregon.

Easements are areas around a person’s property where someone other than the property owner has the right to the land. Determining who is liable for an accident on an easement can complicate recovering compensation, but a skilled personal injury lawyer can help investigate these claims.

What is an Easement?

In the simplest terms, an easement is a legal instance where the title to a specific piece of land remains with the owner, but other individuals or organizations are given the right to use some or all of that land for a distinct reason.

For example, utility companies typically have easements that allow them easy access to an electrical pole on a person’s property. Individuals could also have an easement on their property if the property blocks access to a main road. The easement would allow other individuals to use a portion of the property to gain access to the main road.

There are various types of easements, but we do not have to dig into that for the purposes of this article. Here, we need to know who is liable for accidents that occur on an easement. Is it the landowner or the individual who has a right to use the easement?

Who is Liable for an Accident on an Easement?

Determining liability for an injury that occurs on an easement can be challenging. In order for a person to recover compensation, they have to prove negligence. However, whose negligence has to be proven?

The existence of an easement may mean that the property owner is not legally responsible for accidents that occur on the land of the easement. Since another party other than the owner has the legal right to the land, that other party may also absorb legal responsibility for the safety of those who have a right to use the area, including the care and maintenance of the premises.

For example, if the easement is in place for use by a utility company in Oregon, then the utility company or municipal government will typically bear legal responsibility to maintain the area. The company or municipality will need to cut low-hanging branches, keep debris away from power lines, prevent fires, and take other steps to ensure the area has no known hazards.

However, for other types of easements, including property right usage to private parties or a neighbor, maintenance typically remains the responsibility of the property owner unless otherwise agreed upon by a mutual contract with the landowner and the easement holder.

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury on an easement, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced Portland personal injury lawyer immediately. An attorney can get involved quickly and begin an investigation to determine who is legally responsible for safety on the easement. The attorney will get to work gathering evidence, proving liability, and dealing with the insurance carriers involved. If necessary, an attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the easement to recover compensation for their client.