What are the rights of a landownerif a county road easement runs through the middle oftheir family farm?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2011

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What are the rights of a landownerif a county road easement runs through the middle oftheir family farm?

What are the rights for a farmer/rancher who has had a county road easement running through the middle of the family farm for at least 50 years; especially when it comes to livestock in the road (if hit by a car, who has to pay for the damages – the farmer or the driver?) also, with equipment and dirt/gravel in the road – do we need to clear it? Lastly, what if a working sheep dog chases (but not bites) a jogger aggressively? Do we have any rights since it is private property or do we not get any benefit whatsoever (all the acreage under the road is annually taxed.)

Asked on January 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) Clearing or maintaining the road--that depends on exactly *what* the easement is--i.e. does it give the county or public permission to use your road (a road the property owners install) or did it give the county the right to place their own road on a defined stretch of land? I suspect the latter, and if so, the county would have the obligation to maintain it, but you should have this analyzed by a real estate attorney, who can *also* examine whether or not you pershaps should receive some tax abatement.

2) Liability--under any theory, you will be liable if animals under your control (livestock, a dog) are not adequately restrained and injur another or damage another's property on this road. i.e. since the public evidentaly has a right to use the road, then if you'd be liable for a livestock accident or dog bite if your animal caused  it on a public road adjacent to your land, you're equally liable if it happens on a public road running through your land.

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