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Private Land Owner Liability


John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
Marc801 C wrote: Would you say that the climbers going to that crag know that it's privately owned and know about the regulations?
(No, not supporting any of those actions, just genuinely curious as I've never been to the Red.)


Oh yeah, you walk by several signs that says it’s private property, it’s in the guidebooks, this site- you’d have to be blind to not notice it.

It’s also the most ignored private property sign I’ve ever seen. I watched groups of 20 go up there when it was closed- they didn’t care- it had a short approach and no one was going to stop them.
Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

No one mentioned this when buying the property? Lawyer for you as the buyer?  Christ, Montana must be loaded with cliffs.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Russ Keane wrote: No one mentioned this when buying the property? Lawyer for you as the buyer?  Christ, Montana must be loaded with cliffs.

On the first page, about a dozen posts in:


"Hey David! I am the other owner.  When we purchased it we did know it was a climbing area which was part of the attraction.  We did not think about liability until an attorney brought it to our attention.  Another concern he brought up is that the local university takes paying students and children to the climbing area.  
It is a significant climbing area and we do not want to close access.  It would be devastating to the local climbing community and we will do everything we can to keep it open without exposure to ourselves "
larrys · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0
Angela Kalar wrote: We just purchased a climbing area in Montana that includes approximately 100 routes.  We are concerned about our liability if we continue to allow climbing.  We don't want to close it but have recently been advised to close access because of the high potential for being sued.  Does anyone have information regarding this?  Thanks!


SmithVentures · · Fayetteville, WV · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 165
Angela Kalar wrote: We just purchased a climbing area in Montana that includes approximately 100 routes.  We are concerned about our liability if we continue to allow climbing.  We don't want to close it but have recently been advised to close access because of the high potential for being sued.  Does anyone have information regarding this?  Thanks!
Some states offer recreational land use statutes which protect the landowner from being sued but also encourages landowners to open lands to multiple user groups such as climbing.  In Kentucky, several climbing areas are on private property but the public is allowed access by signing a waiver and agreeing to certain rules.  Access Fund is the best place to start!  
JaredG · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

Consult a local lawyer: expensive.  Close the crag: free. Am I missing something here?

Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 521
JaredG wrote: Consult a local lawyer: expensive.  Close the crag: free. Am I missing something here?

Generosity of spirit and a sense of community?

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
JaredG wrote: Consult a local lawyer: expensive.  Close the crag: free. Am I missing something here?

Or maybe get pro-bono advice from an access fund lawyer?

Cole Lawrence · · Missoula, Montana · Joined May 2017 · Points: 15

The crag we are discussing is Kootenai Canyon. https://www.mountainproject.com/area/106546694/kootenai-canyon-temporarily-closed 

It is stacked and it is amazing!

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 877
Dylan B. wrote:

Generosity of spirit and a sense of community?

Community?  You mean the one that pisses and shits all over the land. Tramples vegetation.  Leaves white chalk everywhere.   


I don’t want to sound cynical because most climbers I know are awesome people and great stewards of the land. But since our numbers are growing, it only takes a few to really fuck up an area. 
Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187
Angela Kalar wrote: We just purchased a climbing area in Montana that includes approximately 100 routes.  We are concerned about our liability if we continue to allow climbing.  We don't want to close it but have recently been advised to close access because of the high potential for being sued.  Does anyone have information regarding this?  Thanks!


See this : https://codes.findlaw.com/mt/title-70-property/mt-code-ann-sect-70-16-302.html

Then see an attorney.

Cliff notes: Do not charge for access and the above statute will give a defense if a law suit is brought forth. It will not prevent a law suit.
Buck Rogers · · Germany · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 5
Harumpfster Boondoggle wrote
Basically treat the climbers as trespassers that you don't bother calling the cops on and you have no liability unless you are leaving bear traps everywhere.

Old thread but interesting.

As painful as it is, with our insane litigious society in the USA, I think the above is the best option. 

I own 40 acres on a mountain that I am planning on retiring to when I finish my Army career and local high schoolers always seem to party on the land.  I do not really mind (although they leave crap everywhere and tear it up a bit) but I have "No Trespassing" signs up everywhere b/c as soon as one of those kids ends up dying in some drunk related incident on my land, the family will try to sue me.

So sad that we have to worry about this stuff.
BillS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

OP should contact her homeowner's policy agent.  

They are most likely the ones who will provide a lawyer and/or pay for any damages in a lawsuit.  They should be made aware of this feature of the property.  They'll then advise the best course of action - which, frankly, hopefully, and most correctly - is who cares do nothing.

caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 75
Greg D wrote:

Community?  You mean the one that pisses and shits all over the land. Tramples vegetation.  Leaves white chalk everywhere.   


I don’t want to sound cynical because most climbers I know are awesome people and great stewards of the land. But since our numbers are growing, it only takes a few to really fuck up an area. 

Go away. You are not helping.

Harumpfster Boondoggle · · Between yesterday and today. · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 65
BillS wrote: OP should contact her homeowner's policy agent.  

They are most likely the ones who will provide a lawyer and/or pay for any damages in a lawsuit.  They should be made aware of this feature of the property.  They'll then advise the best course of action - which, frankly, hopefully, and most correctly - is who cares do nothing.

Ha! They'll just raise their insurance rates and fuck them if/when a lawsuit.

BillS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0
Harumpfster Boondoggle wrote:

Ha! They'll just raise their insurance rates and fuck them if/when a lawsuit.

Unlikely - but if so then there's probably a good reason and that reason is the OP's reality.  

There's also always another insurance company that may know the laws better and can price accordingly.  They do all compete.  

What's really expensive is getting denied coverage for failing to declare things up front - or not immediately reporting a claim if one arises.

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,509

OK, Kids.
there are some questions, not limited to:
Do you know what you own?
 Is it separately surveyed?
Properly recorded?
Pinned?
 Posted?
Easily closed to all traffic.
Is anyone "Grandfathered"  for use/crossing.
Does anyone have a "Legal right of way" across any part?
& . . .
 that is just off the top of my head...

 As incredulous as I am, I will expose a plan that has worked.
 You need to start to post & ban access. Take actions to stop trespassing. You need to march some people off the property with stern warnings.
Blatantly taking notes of types of vehicles & L.Plate numbers. Get names. take pictures & video, keep a file. This is all to set the precedent that you have tried
to restrict access.
You must pass the word here and anywhere that climbers get info. That there is no longer any legal access to your land. And No climbing.
 The length of time that you need to do this sad policing will depend on how much evidence you can collect.
The more the better, enlist your favorite climbers, trading special written access, for  pseudo-ranger duty,
if not to remove all other visitors, have them collect information,( your own Narc, force)
After you have patrolled and have a strong record of attempted enforcement, your ability to defend yourself from wrongful suits, negligence lawsuits due to injury etc.
will be greatly enhanced. Do all this yourselves but work with/run it by an attorney.
Hopefully, after some time, the popularity & number of visitations will drop, and you can lighten up on enforcement,
allowing access, only by waiver &/or self-insured ($2 million, bond)School/ guide service.
The issue for individual recreational non-paid climbers climbing with a signed waiver?
 You have to ask an Attorney, but I think anyone can bring a suit, you can not sign away your rights to do so.
 If the Trespass Precedent exists, you can bring an equal action in defense.
 but the precedent you set will have to have been well established.

caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 75
Suburban Roadside wrote: OK, Kids.
there are some questions, not limited to:
Do you know what you own?
 Is it separately surveyed?
Properly recorded?
Pinned?
 Posted?
Easily closed to all traffic.
Is anyone "Grandfathered"  for use/crossing.
Does anyone have a "Legal right of way" across any part?
& . . .
 that is just off the top of my head...

 As incredulous as I am, I will expose a plan that has worked.
 You need to start to post & ban access. Take actions to stop trespassing. You need to march some people off the property with stern warnings.
Blatantly taking notes of types of vehicles & L.Plate numbers. Get names. take pictures & video, keep a file. This is all to set the precedent that you have tried
to restrict access.
You must pass the word here and anywhere that climbers get info. That there is no longer any legal access to your land. And No climbing.
 The length of time that you need to do this sad policing will depend on who much evidence you can collect.
The more the better, enlist your favorite climbers, trading special written access, for  pseudo-ranger duty,
if not to remove all other visitors have them take information,( your own Narc, force)
After you have patrolled and have a strong record of attempted enforcement, your ability to defend yourself from wrongful suits, negligence lawsuits due to injury etc.
will be greatly enhanced. Do all this all yourselves but work with/run it by an attorney.
Hopefully, after some time, the popularity & number of visitations will drop, and you can lighten up on enforcement,
allowing access, only by waiver &/or self-insured ($2 million, bond)School/ guide service.
The issue for individual recreational non-paid climbers climbing with a signed waiver?
 You have to ask an Attorney, but I think anyone can bring a suit, you can not sign away your rights to do so.
 If the Trespass Precedent exists, you can bring an equal action in defense.
 but the precedent you set will have to have been well established.

what the hell are you talking about

Cole Lawrence · · Missoula, Montana · Joined May 2017 · Points: 15
caesar.salad wrote:

what the hell are you talking about

+1, like wtf? 

DrRockso · · Red River Gorge, KY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 356
Angela Kalar wrote:

Ira - how do they get the word out at RRG that people have to sign a release?  Great ideas!

A sign at the entrance stating liability waiver required and reasonable means to fill one out, i.e. a listed website url or kiosk with paper waivers is all that it is necessary as far as 'getting the word out' on signing a waiver.  I.E. if someone didn't fill one out and tries to sue, they were reasonably informed a waiver was required. 

OP: You should look into the recreational statutes for your state, these statutes often do a great job of protecting landowners from liability incurred. 
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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