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Does a home with driveway easement for neighboring property come with potential liability no matter how good the easement terms?

Los Altos, CA |

I am planning to purchase a home in California in a very nice neighborhood. This is a front property. There is a home behind it that has the right of way to use a driveway (easement) through my future property. Does this mean I could be potentially liable for personal injury or other damages even if the terms of the easesment contract are written very well to protect me? Or are these easements so common that if the terms of use and liability are written well, I don't need to worry about it. (I have not yet seen the easement contract terms)

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Attorney answers 2


Yes, there is potential liability for the driveway easement. However, your homeowners insurance policy, once you acquire the house, should cover any potential liability you may have on connection with the driveway easement.

Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


The concept of an easement is that another person has the right to use your property in some narrowly defined way. The easement is typically granted though a deed or similar instrument. Generally speaking, the issue of who has to maintain the property affected by the easement is determined by who generally uses it. For example, if your neighbor used the easement exclusively and you never used it, the burden on him might be greater. You will need to exercise an ordinary standard of care, however,

The best way perhaps to protect yourself is through a contract with your neighbor in which your neighbor agrees to indemnify and defend you against any liability arising from the act or omission of your neighbor, and you agree to indemnify your neighbor for any injury caused by your act or omission. If only your neighbor makes the promise and the neighbor already owns the easement, the agreement may be deemed to lack consideration and therefore be invalid.

In sum, you could have liability for an injury caused by your act or omission, but you may be able to clearly protect yourself against the acts or omissions of your neighbor. Though you may have some protection in property law, I would suggest a clear indemnification agreement as well.

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