Who Is Liable for an Accident on an Easement?

There are various reasons why a person may have an “easement” on their property. In fact, easements are fairly common in and around our area. An easement essentially gives another person or entity the legal right to use a person’s land for the duration of an agreed-upon period of time. However, what happens if an accident occurs on the easement? Will the property owner who originally had that land be responsible for the incident, or will the person who has control over the easement be responsible? Even though this is not something you may have previously thought of, if you have an easement on your premises, you do need to know what would happen if an accident occurs.

Accidents on an Easement

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to how accidents that occur on an easement will be handled. It will all come down to the language used in an agreement between the actual property owner and the person who is responsible for the easement for the allotted amount of time.

In most situations, the easement rights holder (the party directly benefiting from the easement) will be responsible for maintaining safety on the easement. If the easement rights holder negligently creates a hazardous situation and an accident occurs, they will likely be held liable for paying any injury expenses.

However, where this gets murky is if the original owner also benefits from the easement and they were aware of a hazardous situation that could cause an accident. If the original owner did nothing to correct the situation or failed to notify the easement rights holder about the hazard, then liability may be shared by the original owner and the easement rights holder.

We can take a look at a common example of how easements are used. Suppose a utility company wants to use a portion of a person’s land to run power lines through. Let us suppose that the property owner gives the utility company the right to this easement for 20 years. During that 20 year period, the utility company is likely going to be primarily responsible for ensuring that the easement is safe for any person who may come across the property. If the utility company creates a hazardous condition that causes harm to somebody else, then they would likely be held liable for the injury expenses.

Work With an Attorney if You Are Injured

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury on another person’s property, you should seek assistance from an Irvine premises liability lawyer who can help you secure the compensation you need. This process can become complicated, particularly if the injury occurred due to a hazardous condition on an easement. It can be incredibly confusing to try to determine who is liable for these incidents.

It may be necessary for an attorney to obtain the contract between the property owner and the easement rights holder and analyze the liability language contained in the document. There may be multiple parties who could be held liable, or it may only be one party that holds liability. Regardless, an attorney can help properly file these lawsuits in court and help injury victims secure the compensation they need.