right of way

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Right of Way

An Easement, a privilege to pass over the land of another, whereby the holder of the easement acquires only a reasonable and usual enjoyment of the property, and the owner of the land retains the benefits and privileges of ownership consistent with the easement. Right of way is also used to describe that strip of land upon which railroad companies construct their roadbed; in this context, the term refers to the land itself, not the right of passage over it.

The term right of way also refers to a preference of one of two vehicles or vessels, or between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, asserting the right of passage at the same place and time. It is not an absolute right, however, since the possessor of the right of way is not relieved from the duty of exercising due care for her own safety and that of others.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

right of way

n. 1) a pathway or road with a specific description (e.g. "right to access and egress 20 feet wide along the northern line of Lot 7 of the Cobb subdivision in page 75 of maps"). 2) the right to cross property to go to and from another parcel. The right of way may be a specific grant of land or an "easement," which is a right to pass across another's land. The mere right to cross without a specific description is a "floating" easement. Some rights of way are for limited use such as repair of electric lines or for deliveries to the back door of a store. Railroads own title to a right of way upon which to build permanent tracks. 3) in traffic ordinances, a driver is entitled to the "right of way" to proceed first ahead of other vehicles or pedestrians, depending on certain rules of the road, such as the first to reach an intersection. Failure to yield the right of way to the vehicle or person entitled to it can result in a citation and fine, to say nothing of an accident. It can also be evidence of negligence in a lawsuit for injuries suffered in an accident. (See: easement, floating easement, access, egress)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

right of way

a right enjoyed by one person (either for himself or as a member of the public) to pass over another's land subject to such restrictions and conditions as are specified in the grant or sanctioned by custom, by virtue of which the right exists.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
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