Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Hiker's Liability

Over the past few months here in Hillsdale we’ve had a standoff between hikers and property owners living next to public right-of-ways that accommodate urban trails.

Seems that the City holds the property owners liable for any mishap the befalls a hiker on a trail running next to an owner’s property, even if the right-of-way is technically the City’s.

One property owner, claiming to be fearful of liability, has blocked off access to the right-of-way to hikers. He has also torn out steps that were installed to make passage easier. In their place, the owner has planted juniper bushes, making passage nearly impossible.

Now other property owners are raising similar concerns about liability associated with trails next to their properties.

On Dec. 2, the Pedestrian Office of the City’s transportation department is holding a meeting to address the issue.

So far it has been framed so that the liability gets batted back and forth between the property owners and the City.

How about this? The hikers assume the liability. They might carry an endorsement on their home owners insurance or even on their auto insurance. Or they might get insurance by joining a hiking club like The Mazamas or SWTrails. It shouldn’t cost more than a buck or two for an entire family. If a property owner stops them, they can simply pull out their insurance card and say, “Not to worry. I’m covered and so are you.”

I’m going to suggest the idea the meeting. I’ll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, let me know if you see any problems with the proposal.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are a few questions for the meeting.

Is the liability for the trail any different than the liability that a property owner has when someone falls on the sidewalk adjoining the property owner's house?

Is the liability different than a street which is a more improved right of way?

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick, I read your blog of Nov. 18 about the hiker's liability while on trail cutthroughs and such. I'm just afraid the majority of people confronted and told they must be ok'd by a trail club or through their insurance company would just throw up there hands and say "Aw, the hell with it!" Couldn't it be made even easier by just displaying a sign stating "Do not use this trail unless you accept full responsibility for any accident you might have while using it." If that isn't sufficient in our litiguous society, maybe a sign up list where you promise to take full responsibility and sign your name. Anyway, I hope all goes well at the meeting. Pete Schmierbach

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all because of having a "sue-sue" attitude, especially for those who lack any sense of accountability (by this I mean the hikers). For opportunists it's just like winning the lottery - a once and a lifetime chance to pay-off the bills!

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Rick,

"On Dec. 2, the Pedestrian Office of the City’s transportation department is holding a meeting to address the issue."

As a member of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association and the Southwest Trails Group, have you informed your neighbors along Seymour Drive and 25th of the meeting? I'm sure their input would be welcomed. How about the folks on Martins Lane? I know they would appreciate your interest in their concerns.



11:01 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

I've forwarded the last comment to the PDOT officials who have called the meeting. I assumed all parties had been invited. But just in case....

That said, I would hope that — regardless of memberships — anyone who thinks the neighbors should attend would inform them of the meeting.

7:41 AM  

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