Responsibility for Beaten Tracks

Like every working day, Jack takes a shortcut on a beaten track to reach the bus to take him to work. This beaten track is located on private premises of men-crazy Jill. One fine day as he was walking on that path, he caught a glimpse of Jill in the window and could not turn away his eyes. He stumbled, fell, broke an arm, and sprained an ankle. He now wants to collect damages from Jill.


The OLG of Thuringia settled this dispute on October 12, 2005 (re 2 O 215/04). The legal question concerned what duties a proprietor has when tolerating a beaten path on one’s premises and what users of a piece of real estate can expect be done for prevention.

Tolerating or allowing a beaten path on one’s piece of land can open a source of danger. Generally, you are obligated to take precautions that nobody will be hurt. However, to what degree is just and reasonable? The court said generally not more precautions must be made than if this were a public sidewalk.

In other words, this means that users have to accept the path as is. They are responsible that they pass safely. You as the owner will only have to do something if any obstacles exist that a diligent wanderer will not be able to notice in a timely manner or avoid. If strolling persons walk on a path visibly running to seed, they will have to pay more attention to the path than to their company. The owner of the property does not even need to put up a sign warning of the visibly dangerous path. Jill will be required to put up signs that warn (of course only women) against hidden traps (that are of course only intended for men).

It remains to be seen if Jack has learned to stop when staring and not just walk on.

Published on the old CMS: 2007/2/16
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 1,409 reads

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