New law grants home, property owners immunity in connection to trails

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There are now more protections for homeowners, if you own property that backs up to a trail. It’s all thanks to a state law that took effect on July 1st.

This new law is designed to protect property owners along green ways or trails just like this one.

Molly Hale and her family own a home that backs right up to the Monon Trail.

Molly Hale, a homeowner explained “This house, on the trail, we bought about a year and a half ago.”

They bought the house to give neighbors another trail passage option. 

They also pay for the highest liability insurance coverage they can, because they know people use their property to get to and from the Monon Trail.

“It protects us in the event that someone were to be injured or generally protects against lawsuits,” said Hale.

Now, the need for that extra insurance could change, thanks to a new state law that just took effect July 1.

State Representative Carey Hamilton, a Democrat from Indianapolis said “Before this law, if you lived on a trail, had property on a trail, you would be liable if anything were to happen to someone cutting through your property. With this law, you are relieved of that liability.” 

Hamilton created the law. She says it passed with strong support from the Statehouse. But, there were some initial concerns.

“One concern that we heard early on, is that this might condone trespass. Trespassing is still illegal.That is not condoned by this bill.”

Hamilton said Hale’s extra out-of-pocket insurance costs are part of why she created the bill. She hopes this helps homeowners, particularly in rural areas.

“So they don’t have to worry about liability and could support the future changes of those old rail beds into trail systems,” said Hamilton. 

Molly Hale explained, “We have a very small sliver of property adjacent to the Monon. But in the bigger picture, I think this law is really helpful for people in rural communities.”

So if someone does hurt themselves on your property that backs up to a trail, how do you actually use this new law?

Hamilton said reach out to your city or town leaders and ask for help. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

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