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P.E.I. landowners not liable for off-roaders

Farmers and other landowners on Prince Edward Island can’t be held liable for other people’s mishaps on their property with snowmobiles or other off-road vehicles.

The province has amended its Off-Highway Vehicle Act to absolve landowners of liability in accidents involving snowmobilers and ATV drivers, regardless of whether the landowner has granted access to the off-roaders or not. “This change places the responsibility for any mishap squarely on the shoulders of snowmobilers or ATV users,” Transportation Minister Ron MacKinley said in a release Friday.

“Many landowners have expressed serious concerns on this front over the years. Hopefully this change will encourage greater acceptance of off-highway vehicles.”

MacKinley’s announcement comes as snowmobile season kicks into high gear in the province. “I am hopeful that this change will help encourage the safe use of off-highway vehicles on Prince Edward Island,” he said.

“Off-highway vehicle users now know they are solely responsible for their personal safety on someone else’s land. That will help provide incentive to ride safely.”

That said, MacKinley recommended all off-highway vehicle users continue to seek permission to use private land.

The amended legislation states that off-roaders are now “deemed to have willingly assumed all risks related to the ownership or operation of or carriage on the off-highway vehicle.”

The only exception to the rule would be in case of a hazard or danger created by the farmer or landowner “with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or property of the (off-road vehicle’s) owner, operator or passenger.”

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