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  1. #1
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    Private property liability

    Hey everyone,

    I was lucky enough to have a private property owner ask me to build trails for him for $. Then I suggested we combine all of the adjoining properties together (with permission) and build a more extensive, rideable network in exchange for access rights to a small group of trailbuilders/riders.

    He then reminded me about liability. (I always forget those fine points)

    I've searched and can't find a whole lot.
    How does this work?
    What would protect the owners? A waiver? Full coverage? What are the going rates on that?
    A handshake and a promise not to sue?

    Would we need any of that if it was just going to be me riding it?


    If I get the green light this could be very cool, and could be one of the only places in my area to have some fun stunts.

    Thanks

    Josh

  2. #2
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshman108 View Post
    Hey everyone,

    I was lucky enough to have a private property owner ask me to build trails for him for $. Then I suggested we combine all of the adjoining properties together (with permission) and build a more extensive, rideable network in exchange for access rights to a small group of trailbuilders/riders.

    He then reminded me about liability. (I always forget those fine points)

    I've searched and can't find a whole lot.
    How does this work?
    What would protect the owners? A waiver? Full coverage? What are the going rates on that?
    A handshake and a promise not to sue?

    Would we need any of that if it was just going to be me riding it?


    If I get the green light this could be very cool, and could be one of the only places in my area to have some fun stunts.

    Thanks

    Josh
    You should talk to a lawyer in your state, perhaps a sympathetic lawyer you could get basic information/advice from for free. If it's a very limited group a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) might suffice. I am not a lawyer but use them when it pays to.
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  3. #3
    Stiff yet compliant
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    Your profile says you live in Missouri? Missouri Recreational Use Statute.

    This give property owners a great deal of protection from liability when they allow the public to use their property for recreational purposes without charge.
    Last edited by Moustache rider; 11-14-2012 at 06:37 PM.

  4. #4
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    I'd suggest an easement or license agreement between the owner's of the properties on which the trail will be located. The agreement should provide among other things that each property owner will carry liability insurance naming the other as an additional insured with respect to injuries, etc. occurring on the owner's property.

    You should absolutely consult an attorney in your state if you are building trails for money.
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  5. #5
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    Yes I live in Missouri. As far as I can tell all that article said is that the property owners are indeed little. Is that correct?
    Which of course brings me back to, how do we expunge liability?

  6. #6
    trail rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshman108 View Post
    Yes I live in Missouri. As far as I can tell all that article said is that the property owners are indeed little. Is that correct?
    Which of course brings me back to, how do we expunge liability?
    You really really really want to talk to an attorney who knows your state landowner laws. And liability coverage you need as builders, do NOT skip that part!
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  7. #7
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    Looks more in depth than I thought.
    I think I would go ahead and contact an attorney if and when we have the owners on board.
    Could be a fun little project.

  8. #8
    trail rat
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    It is always more "in depth" than you expect.

    Trails are like the tip of the iceberg. Building trail is maybe .005% of the work; the politics to make it happen is 99.995% of the work and 2000% of the time.
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  9. #9
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    I would think contacting IMBA might be helpful.
    Seems to me they have a good number of real world examples of MOU's and whatnot.
    They might even have a list of attorneys in Mo. who could help with this project.
    (I'm thinking of a state IMBA chapter, not necessarily the national org.)

    Wish you well with all that!

  10. #10
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    I know you have to go through a million red tapes on public land. I thought private might be a little easier.
    I was thinking we could basically just go in and build.
    I'll definitely contact imba. I think I became a member a while back

    Thanks for all the responses.
    Are the requirements different in every state? Or has no one ever had experience in this particular sort of private land scenario?

  11. #11
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    Friends don't sue friends, lawyers do.

  12. #12
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshman108 View Post
    I know you have to go through a million red tapes on public land. I thought private might be a little easier.
    I was thinking we could basically just go in and build.
    I'll definitely contact imba. I think I became a member a while back

    Thanks for all the responses.
    Are the requirements different in every state? Or has no one ever had experience in this particular sort of private land scenario?
    Yes, each state is different. You need a lawyer to tell you what the law says about what you want to do. You need to know so you don't inadvertently do something the wrong way. You could simply pay a lawyer his hourly fee for an hour of his time and find out what rules/laws/requirements you need be aware of.
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  13. #13
    The White Jeff W
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    I was reading this last night & started looking into liability law in my state (Pennsylvania) since there's a large tract of privately owned woods adjacent to the trails in the nearby county park that I've had my eye on for awhile.

    Turns out Pennsylvania law is written to encourage private land owners to allow recreational use of their land by protecting them from liability in the event someone would be injured or killed doing something inherently dangerous on their property so long as they don't charge a fee for its use.

    Im hoping to approach the land owner with this info & see if they'll allow us to build in the woods around their farm fields.

    http://law.psu.edu/_file/aglaw/Lando...Land_Users.pdf

    TITLE 68. REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY CHAPTER 11. USES OF PROPERTY RECREATION USE OF LAND AND WATER
    Purpose of the Act
    The purpose of this act is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes.
    Definitions
    1. Land land, roads, water, watercourses, private ways and buildings, structures and machinery or equipment when attached to the realty.
    2. Owner means the possessor of a fee interest, a tenant, lessee, occupant or person in control of the premises.
    3. Recreational Purpose includes, but is not limited to: hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, pleasure driving, nature study, water skiing, water sports, cave exploration and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, or scientific sites.
    4. Charge means the admission price or fee asked in return for invitation or permission to enter or go upon the land.
    In short this Act provides:
    Overview of Act Provisions
    The Act generally provides that an owner of land owes no duty to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational purposes, or to give any warning of a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity on the premises.
    The Act protects landowners from liability when their land is used for recreational purposes by the public without charge, whether or not the landowner has invited or permitted the public to enter his land. (See Friedman v. Grand Central Sanitation, Inc. in endnote 10).
    The only time a landowner's liability is not limited under the Act is for willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity or if the landowner charges for entry onto his land.
    The Act only provides liability protection to individuals who have a legal interest in the land.
    Absent a legal interest in a particular parcel of land, the act provides no protection
    However, the definition of "owner" and court interpretations have allowed for a broad concept of landowner. An owner of land, under the Act, includes not only fee holders of land title, but lessees, occupants, or even persons who are simply in control of the land. This broad-sweeping definition helps to encourage greater recreational use of land because the liability risk for recreational groups such as leasing hunt clubs is significantly reduced.
    Generally, the more restrictions the landowner places upon his land, the less likely he is to be protected by the Act.
    Last edited by jeffw-13; 11-24-2012 at 02:49 PM.
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  14. #14
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    This may be of interest to both the OP & jeffw-13:

    Although jeffw-13 posted Penn. recreation use statute, Missouri may be similar. Most States Recreational Use Statutes extend protection from liability to the Landowner.

    I'm 99% certain that anyone building a trail on land they do not own will expose themself to liability. Having permission from the landowner does not relieve liability. Building a trail for profit will definitely require one to carry insurance.
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  15. #15
    The White Jeff W
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boulder Pilot View Post
    This may be of interest to both the OP & jeffw-13:

    Although jeffw-13 posted Penn. recreation use statute, Missouri may be similar. Most States Recreational Use Statutes extend protection from liability to the Landowner.

    I'm 99% certain that anyone building a trail on land they do not own will expose themself to liability. Having permission from the landowner does not relieve liability. Building a trail for profit will definitely require one to carry insurance.
    Thanks for the clarification. Sounds like, at least in Penna, that some sort of agreement between owner and builder would extend protection to the builder. I would definitely talk to a lawyer before moving forward. My goal would be to make this as painless as possible for the land owner.

    However, the definition of "owner" and court interpretations have allowed for a broad concept of landowner. An owner of land, under the Act, includes not only fee holders of land title, but lessees, occupants, or even persons who are simply in control of the land. This broad-sweeping definition helps to encourage greater recreational use of land because the liability risk for recreational groups such as leasing hunt clubs is significantly reduced.
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  16. #16
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    Im not sure if it has been mentioned but out urban wilderness network here in Knoxville,TN has trails on private land(owned by the president of our SORBA/IMBA chapter the AMBC) im sure you could email them about it. If im not mistaken another large private property is about to be prepped for trails to expand the network.

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  17. #17
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    Oh the website iswww.ambc-sorba.org

    And the Helix trails are the ones on private land.

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  18. #18
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    I have dealt with this in Kentucky. krs laws. but I will tell you this. whoever builds the trails possibly could always be sued in court. Thats just my opinion.

  19. #19
    saddlemeat
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    ^^^Anyone can be sued by anyone for anything, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, so I'll bet you're right.

    joshman108- I hope you got this to work, after reading this thread again, it comes off a little discouraging and quickly converts to commercial or public use situations. Given the OP situation, it would probably suffice to simply indemnify the neighbor from any liability related to your trespassing on his property via a Memorandum Of Understanding drawn up by a lawyer and signed by all parties. Then add a rider to your homeowners liability policy if you feel it's appropriate. I would feel good about that where I live.
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  20. #20
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    I wasn't adding that to discourage, I think its awesome your trying. Reason I added this is because any lawyer could show negligence in man made or altered trails. Whatever you do be careful with ratings of trails of difficulty.

  21. #21
    Almost Human
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshman108 View Post
    I've searched and can't find a whole lot.
    How does this work?
    What would protect the owners? A waiver? Full coverage? What are the going rates on that?
    A handshake and a promise not to sue?
    Guessing that the landowners don't want public use, so the Recreational Use Statute probably won't help.

    Have you thought about a long-term lease? Like a hunting lease except for recreation? You, your club or friends could lease the land/trailks for trail riding. Maybe it's only for $1 for the term? You could ask an attorney if this would help with the liability issues since you could write that into the lease also. Maybe the lease is the cost of the homeowners insurance increase?

    Other options would be an MOU or a License Agreement.

    There are private motocross tracks all over. Most just require a liability waiver. Don't see why that wouldn't work.

  22. #22
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    Thanks for all the responses.

    I will say that I haven't heard back from the owner yet. It was a big job on his part contacting everyone and I got lost in other things.

    It's hard to say if we'll ever get the green light even with legal issues solved because the trails are literally in people's backyards. Per all the great advice, I will probably call some lawyers in the area.
    Given my history with layers, this may take more than a couple calls to find some proper information.

    Thanks for the responses. I'll keep you updated. Is there a type of lawyer who specializes in land use that I should call?

    UncleTrail - I never thought about leasing. I'll ask about that.

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